Monday, October 28, 2013

WPIAL Playoff Outlook

The WPIAL will announce their playoff seedings tonight at 7:00pm. This season was one of streak-breaking as Clairton's record winning streak came to an end at the hands of Monessen, Avella qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1976 and Kittanning posted an undefeated season for the first time since 1976. Two schools, Summit Academy and West Shamokin, are making their first playoff appearance in school history. Most of the seedings should be pretty straight-forward, though in Class A there was a 3-way tie atop the Black Hills Conference. Last year when there was a 3-way tie atop the Big Seven, the WPIAL "flipped" some seedings to better reflect the "true seeds" in the bracket. Last year, Jefferson-Morgan was given the #4 seed in Class A despite finishing 2nd in the Tri-County South and Neshannock (who was 3rd in the 3-way tie, making them play on the road) got the #13 seed. This set up a scenario where the "true seeds" would have put Sto-Rox at #2, Rochester at #3 and Neshannock at #4, but since Neshannock had to play on the road, they were "flipped" to the #14 seed, rather than being put in the #9 spot as the top road team. This could happen to Fort Cherry this year as they were the 3rd team in the 3-way tie with Monessen and Clairton atop the Black Hills Conference.


Foothills Conference: 1. McKeesport (8-0, 9-0), 2. Penn-Trafford (6-2, 6-3), 3. Gateway (6-2, 7-2), 4. Hempfield (5-3, 6-3), 5. Kiski (5-3, 5-4)

Northern Eight Conference: 1. Central Catholic (7-0, 9-0), 2. Seneca Valley (6-1, 8-1), 3. North Allegheny (5-2, 6-3), 4. North Hills (4-3, 5-4), 5. Pine-Richland (3-4, 5-4)

Southeastern Conference: 1. Upper St Clair (8-0, 9-0), 2. Woodland Hills (7-1, 7-2), 3. Bethel Park (6-2, 6-3), 4. Penn Hills (4-4, 5-4), 5. Peters Twp (4-4, 5-4), 6. Baldwin (3-5, 4-5)

Predicted Playoff Seeding
1. Central Catholic - The Vikings navigated a tough Northern Eight Conference with a strong offense led by Florida State recurit JJ Cosentino at QB and 900-yard rusher Luigi Lista-Brinza. They allowed only 3 points per game and posted 6 shutouts.
2. Upper St Clair - The Panthers were once again dominant on the defensive side of the ball, posting 6 shutouts.
3. McKeesport - The Tigers went undefeated through the Foothills Conference with the return of their flexbone running game.
4. Seneca Valley - The Raiders rode dual-threat QB TJ Holl (1418 passing yards, 516 rushing yards) to a second place finish in the Northern Eight with their only loss coming to Central Catholic.
5. Woodland Hills - Many seemed ready to press the panic button on the Wolverines after an 0-2 start, but they have not lost since then thanks to the emergence of sophomore RB Miles Sanders (980 yards, 12 TD)
6. Penn-Trafford - A balanced offensive approach with 900-yard rusher Devin Austin and 1000-yard passer Brett Laffon led Penn-Trafford to a second place finish in the Foothills Conference.
7. Gateway - The perennial postseason underachievers ride a 2-game losing streak into the playoffs, falling in back-to-back weeks to Penn-Trafford and McKeesport. The Gators are loaded with D-1 prospects but have not performed up to expectations.
8. Bethel Park - After a strong start the Blackhawks lost 2 of their last 3 games, including a shellacking by Seneca Valley
9. Hempfield - The Spartans are the team on the bottom half of the bracket that no one wants to see with 1300-yard rusher Joey DeFloria in the backfield. I had to bump them up to the #9 seed to avoid a conference matchup with Gateway or Penn-Trafford.
10. Penn Hills - Penn Hills beat North Hills in the regular season so they should get a slightly higher seeding. They jumped up to 10 over North Allegheny in order to avoid a rematch of NA and Gateway.
11. North Allegheny - The 3-time defending Quad-A Champions fall to the #11 seed not on merit but in order to avoid recurring matchups between NA-Gateway, Hempfield-Gateway, Hempfield-PennTrafford or North Hills-PennTrafford.
12. North Hills - The Indians got run off the field by rival North Allegheny in the last week of the season. They have the worst offense of any team in the Quad-A playoffs.
13. Kiski - The Cavaliers have a win over Penn-Trafford and primarily rely on dual-threat QB Chad Kuhn who has over 1200 yards of total offense and 11 TDs.
14. Peters Twp - The Indians are the definition of doing just enough to make the playoffs after beating Baldwin by 5 and Mt Lebanon by 4
15. Pine-Richland - The Rams have a dangerous offense with 1600-yard passer Ben DiNucci and 1000-yard rusher Connor Slomka.
16. Baldwin - The Highlanders beat Mt Lebanon in an overtime thriller in late September and rode that win to the tiebreaker for the last playoff spot.


Big Nine Conference: 1. Thomas Jefferson (8-0, 9-0), 2. West Mifflin (7-1, 8-1), 3. Ringgold (6-2, 7-2), 4. Elizabeth Forward (5-3, 6-3), 5. Belle Vernon (4-4, 4-5)

Greater Allegheny Conference: 1. Franklin Regional (7-1, 8-1), 2. Mars (7-1, 8-1), 3. Highlands (6-2, 6-3), 4. Indiana (4-4, 4-5), 5. Hollidaysburg (3-5, 3-6), 6. Hampton (3-5, 4-5)

Parkway Conference: 1. West Allegheny (8-0, 9-0), 2. Central Valley (7-1, 8-1), 3. New Castle (6-2, 7-2), 4. Moon (5-3, 6-3), 5. Montour (4-4, 5-4)

Predicted Playoff Seeding
1. West Allegheny - The defending AAA Champions ran through a good Parkway Conference to an undefeated season which should be enough for them to get the top seed.
2. Thomas Jefferson - TJ dominated the Big Nine Conference, beating every opponent by at least 3 touchdowns (including a West Mifflin team that boasted the WPIAL's leading rusher). TJ has reached at least the semi-finals in 14 of the last 15 years.
3. Central Valley - The Warriors have a well-balanced offense and a dominating defense that pitched 5 shutouts. Their only loss was a 13-7 defeat by West Allegheny.
4. West Mifflin - The Titans made a run to the Championship Game last season and boast the WPIAL's leading rusher Jimmy Wheeler (2022 yards, 29 TDs).
5. Franklin Regional - The Panthers Week 1 victory over Mars was enough to give them the top spot in the Greater Allegheny Conference.
6. Mars - RB Josh Schultheis ran for 1285 yards and 22 TDs this season for the Fighting Planets who tied Franklin Regional atop the GAC.
7. Ringgold - The Rams beat Highlands in convincing fashion two weeks ago so there is no reason they should be seeded behind Highlands.
8. Highlands - An upset by Knoch in the last week of the season prevented them from sharing the GAC title in a 3-way tie with Franklin Regional and Mars.
9. New Castle - The Red Hurricane gave West Allegheny one of their best games of the season and are the most dangerous team on the bottom half of the bracket.
10. Indiana - The Little Indians shouldn't be seeded ahead of Moon, but I flipped them to prevent a matchup of conference foes (Indiana-Mars or Indiana-Franklin Regional) or of a game that already happened (Indiana-West Mifflin).
11. Moon - The Tigers reached the playoffs for the first time since 2006 on the back of 1400-yard rusher Cole Blake.
12. Elizabeth Forward - Dual-threat QB JaQuan Davidson ran for over 1000 yards and threw for 870, accounting for 27 total TDs.
13. Montour - The Spartans did not have the Championship-caliber team they have boasted the past few years but they were good enough to qualify in the Parkway Conference
14. Belle Vernon - After a 1-4 start, the Leopards won 3 of their last 4 to get into the playoffs. All of their wins were by 28+ and all of their losses were by at least 21.
15. Hollidaysburg - Wins over Greensburg Salem and Hampton were enough to give Hollidaysburg the edge in the 4-way tiebreaker at the bottom of the GAC. They have the worsts point differential (-92 points) of any AAA playoff team.
16. Hampton - Wins over Greensburg Salem and Knoch were enough to get the Talbots into the postseason for the second straight year.


Allegheny Conference: 1. Kittanning (8-0, 9-0), 2. Shady Side Academy (7-1, 8-1), 3. Summit Academy (5-3, 5-4), 4. Valley (5-3, 6-3)

Century Conference: 1. South Fayette (8-0, 9-0), 2. Quaker Valley (7-1, 7-2), 3. Seton-La Salle (6-2, 7-2), 4. South Park (5-3, 5-4)

Interstate Conference: 1. Mt Pleasant (8-0, 9-0), 2. Washington (7-1, 8-1), 3. Yough (5-3, 5-4), 4. Greensburg Central Catholic (5-3, 5-4)

Midwestern Conference: 1. Aliquippa (7-0, 9-0), 2. Beaver Falls (6-1, 7-2), 3. New Brighton (5-2, 6-3), 4. Beaver (4-3, 6-3)

Predicted Playoff Seeding
1. Aliquippa - The two-time defending AA Champions haven't lost to a WPIAL team since South Fayette beat them in the 2010 Championship Game.
2. South Fayette - The Lions blasted everyone in the Century Conference, averaging 49.8 points per game on the strength of 1800-yard passer Brett Brumbaugh and 900-yard rusher Grant Fetchet.
3. Mt Pleasant - Tyler Mellors ran for a school record 1173 yards and 21 TDs en route to an undefeated season for the Vikings.
4. Kittanning - The Wildcats went undefeated for the first time since 1976, winning the Allegheny Conference crown thanks to a 1-point win over Shady Side Academy.
5. Beaver Falls - The Tigers were the only team to give Aliquippa a run for their money this season
6. Shady Side Academy - The Indians had an excessive celebration penalty after a touchdown which resulted in a missed 35-yard extra point and gave Kittanning a 1-point win and the Conference Title.
7. Washington - It has been a tumultuous season for the Little Prexies. They lost all-state RB Shai McKenzie and needed a PIAA ruling to overturn the WPIAL nullifying victories to preserve their playoff spot.
8. Quaker Valley - The Quakers will host the first home playoff game in school history.
9. New Brighton - After QB Gabe Greco was injured, junior Payton Fath stepped in and threw for 781 yards and 9 TDs.
10. Seton-La Salle - Tyler Perone continued the tradition of great Rebels QBs, throwing for 1458 yards and 15 TDs.
11. Beaver - QB Alex Rouse (2041 yards, 33 TDs) led the WPIAL in passing.
12. Valley - The Vikings beat Yough and the WPIAL has been known to reorganize teams out of their conference order of finish.
13. Yough - The Cougars are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
14. Summit Academy - Elijah Hardy ran for 780 yards and 11 TDs, leading Summit Academy to the first playoff berth in school history.
15. Greensburg Central Catholic - The Centurions beat Jeanette in a casket match in the last week of the season. GCC boasts an 1100-yard rusher in Tyler Balla and one of the best linebacking units in AA.
16. South Park - The Eagles bookended their season with 2 losses to start and finish, but their 5-game winning streak in the middle was enough to get them to the playoffs.


Big Seven Conference: 1. Sto-Rox (8-0, 9-0), 2. Neshannock (7-1, 7-2), 3. Laurel (6-2, 7-2), 4. Western Beaver (5-3, 5-4)

Black Hills Conference: 1. Monessen (7-1, 8-1), 2. Clairton (7-1, 7-1), 3. Fort Cherry (7-1, 8-1), 4. Brentwood (5-3, 5-4)

Eastern Conference: 1. North Catholic (8-0, 9-0), 2. Avonworth (7-1, 8-1), 3. Apollo-Ridge (6-2, 7-2), 4. West Shamokin (5-3, 6-3)

Tri-County South Conference: 1. Beth-Center (8-0, 9-0), 2. Carmichaels (7-1, 8-1), 3. Frazier (6-2, 7-2), 4. Avella (5-3, 6-3)

Predicted Playoff Seeding
1. Sto-Rox - The Vikings have made two consecutive trips to Heinz Field, falling to Clairton both times and look to make it 3 straight years on the arm of the All-time leading passer in the WPIAL, Lenny Williams.
2. North Catholic - The Trojans suffered a blow against Neshannock when QB Adam Sharlow was lost for the season and it looks like they will go back to the wildcat with PJ Fulmore that they ran into the semi-finals last year.
3. Monessen - The Greyhounds are the only team to beat Clairton in the last 71 games.
4. Clairton - The Bears can thank Chartiers-Houston for keeping their game against Fort Cherry close and getting them a home playoff game.
5. Beth-Center - It is hard to gauge where the WPIAL will seed the Tri-County South Champions, but with an undefeated record, it's hard to see them being seeded poorly.
6. Avonworth - The Antelopes only loss came against North Catholic and was a much closer game than the score indicated as a late pick-6 stretched out the Trojans lead.
7. Neshannock - They lost by 3 to Sto-Rox and by 7 to North Catholic. This is a very good team that could make some noise.
8. Carmichaels - The Mighty Mikes finished 2nd in the Tri-County South, which is usually good for the #8 seed unless the WPIAL decides to "flip" a matchup into a higher position like they did last year with Jefferson Morgan and Neshannock into the 4-13 spot on the bracket.
9. Fort Cherry - Koltan Kobrys did pretty much everything for the Rangers this season, including rushing for 1681 yards and tallied 25 total TDs. The Rangers are the best of the non-home teams and their matchup could get "flipped" into a higher position to put them in the 5-12 matchup where their "true" seed would be 5th (which would put the 3 teams tied atop the Black Hills at 3-4-5 in the bracket).
10. Apollo-Ridge - They took conference champion North Catholic to overtime in Week 1. QB Jesse Zelonka threw for 1283 yards and 19 TDs this year.
11. Laurel - Laurel scored at least 20 points in each of their 7 wins and were held under 20 in their 2 losses.
12. Brentwood - The Spartans rode 1300-yard passer Connor McWilliams into the playoffs, their 6th consecutive appearance.
13. Frazier - QB Charlie Manack threw for 1653 yards and 25 TDs this season.
14. West Shamokin - The Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in school history
15. Western Beaver - Hunter Rocknich led the Golden Beavers back into the playoffs with 1208 rushing yards and 14 TDs.
16. Avella - The Eagles are in the playoffs for the first time since 1976.

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