Friday, October 7, 2011

WPIAL September Review

We're halfway through the High School Football season here in Western Pennsylvania, and we've seen some great performances so far, such as Hopewell RB Rushel Shell breaking the WPIAL career rushing mark against Mt. Lebanon. We've seen some great runs continue, like Clairton's 36-game winning streak. We've also seen West Shamokin tie Geibel's WPIAL record for consecutive losses at 39. Here's a look at how things stand in the four classes with five games down and four left to go.


Best Team: Central Catholic

The Vikings are 5-0, including a victory in a nationally televised game against Eastern PA powerhouse Archbishop Wood. They dismantled a very good Woodland Hills team 31-13 and should cruise to the Big East Conference crown and the #1 seed in the AAAA playoffs.

Most Surprising Team: Penn-Trafford

After years of being perennial 3rd place finishers behind Gateway and McKeesport in the Foothills Conference, the Warriors have run out to a 5-0 record behind RB Manny Simpson. They got a marquee victory in week 4 when they beat conference foe Gateway on a last-second field goal. Their resume includes a 34-17 shellacking of non-conference opponent Mt. Lebanon.

Most Disappointing Team: Norwin

After making the playoffs last year, Norwin has been Quad-A's worst team this year. They are dead last in both offense and defense, being outscored 233-21 this season. They have been shut out three times, including last week's 85-0 loss to Gateway.

Best Week 6 Matchups:

  • McKeesport @ Penn-Trafford - Penn-Trafford already has a victory over Gateway. A win over the Tigers would give them the inside track to the Foothills Conference title.
  • Upper St Clair @ Peters Township - The winner will set the early pace in the Great Southern Conference.
  • Seneca Valley @ Pine-Richland - The loser will be essentially eliminated from playoff contention.

Top 5:
1. Central Catholic
2. North Allegheny
3. Penn-Trafford
4. McKeesport
5. Upper St. Clair


Best Team: Central Valley

The defending champs have come out of the gate strong with an unblemished record and three strong victories in the tough Parkway conference. Six of the eight Parkway teams are good enough to be in the playoffs, and it's going to be a fun October in the Parkway Conference as CV battles three teams that have only 1 loss so far: Blackhawk, Hopewell and defending conference champion Montour (who they beat in the WPIAL title game last year).

Most Surprising Team: Indiana

The Little Indians are one of four remaining undefeated AAA teams. Their offense hasn't missed a beat after losing their quarterback to graduation, as they have put up over 200 points this season, second best in AAA. They got off to a strong start in conference play by winning a 13-12 grinder at Highlands then beating defending champion Mars 30-15.

Most Disappointing Team: Kittanning

With four seniors returning in the backfield, we thought this would be the year the Wildcats would make a run at the playoffs. However, after an 0-5 start, the Wildcats are still showing they haven't adapted to life in Class AAA.

Best Week 6 Matchups:

  • Central Valley @ Montour - A rematch of last year's AAA Championship game.
  • Chartiers Valley @ Thomas Jefferson - Two perennial powers in the Big Eight Conference as TJ's 34-game conference winning streak is on the line against Wayne Capers and the dynamic Mustangs.
  • Knoch @ Indiana - Two of the four remaining undefeated teams in AAA face off with the winner having the edge in the Greater Allegheny Conference.

Top 5:
1. Central Valley
2. Thomas Jefferson
3. Montour
4. Franklin Regional
5. Knoch


Best Team: Aliquippa

The Quips are well on their way to another undefeated season, with their closest game an 18-point victory over Riverside. They beat a very good Beaver Falls team 27-0. The only challenge to another unblemished season will be their Week 7 matchup against undefeated Beaver Area.

Most Surprising Team: Washington

The Little Prexies got trounced twice early in the season, by non-conference Single-A powerhouse Clairton and by conference power Seton-La Salle. The Prexies responded with an explosion of offense, pounding defending AA Champion South Fayette 33-14 and beating Keystone Oaks 41-16. They have a big game against Steel Valley this week and then get to close the season out against three of the conference bottom-feeders, which should ensure them a spot in the playoffs if they beat the teams they should.

Most Disappointing Team: Ford City

For a team that has been so good for so long, regardless of who graduated, it's hard to watch them go through a down season. In our season preview we compared Ford City to the Indianapolis Colts, so it's somewhat fitting that they're having a down year. They lost to a bad non-conference opponent (South Allegheny) and are 1-2 in conference play and haven't even been close against Shady Side Academy and Freeport.

Best Week 6 Matchups:

  • Aliquippa @ Ellwood City - The Quips are undefeated and only have to play two teams with winning records the rest of the year. Ellwood City is 4-1 and looking to return to the playoffs for the second straight year.
  • South Fayette @ Keystone Oaks - Two teams in the thick of the Century Conference playoff race do battle at Dormont Stadium.
  • Steel Valley @ Washington - Steel Valley has one of the top rushers in WPIAL but a loss here will leave them on the outside looking in in the Century Conference playoff race.

Top 5:
1. Aliquippa
2. Seton-La Salle
3. Jeanette
4. Greensburg Central Catholic
5. Beaver Area


Best Team: Clairton

This really isn't even close. They have the best offense and best defense in Class A and are outscoring opponents by an average of 48 points per game. They haven't given up a point since Week 1 against Washington (who is a AA team), who they beat by 30. Yeah, the Bears are that freaking good.

Most Surprising Team: OLSH

Only in their second year of playing football, the Chargers put together back-to-back victories against Wilkinsburg and Leechburg. Their two losses to Northgate and Springdale will make it difficult to crack the playoff race this year, but the two conference victories are a sign of good things to come from this young program.

Most Disappointing Team: Rochester

It's hard to call a 1-loss team a disappointment, but the standard is higher for the Rochester Rams, who hadn't lost a conference game since 2008 before losing 48-27 to Sto-Rox two weeks ago. It wasn't so much that they lost to the Vikings, but how the game went down with Sto-Rox running up an early lead, Rochester fighting back, then the Vikings blowing them out late.

Best Week 6 Matchups:

  • Western Beaver @ Rochester - Two playoff teams from the Big Seven Conference in a game that will probably decide which team will get a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Monessen @ Beth-Center - The top two teams from the Tri-County South face off in a game that should determine the conference title. Both teams are in the top 10 in Class A in offense and defense.
  • North Catholic @ Avonworth - The Antelopes got the best of the Trojans twice last year in the regular season and the playoffs. North brings one of WPIAL's top passers into the game and Avonworth boasts a formidable rushing attack.

Top 5:
1. Clairton
2. Sto-Rox
3. Rochester
4. Bishop Canevin
5. Beth-Center

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