Game of the Week
Baldwin (3-4, 4-4) at Bethel Park (5-2, 5-3)
There aren't many great matchups to choose from since Gateway and McKeesport played for the Foothills Conference title on Thursday night. The other two conference titles are decided with the only significant games deciding who finishes 3rd in the Foothills (Penn Trafford vs Hempfield) and Northern Eight (North Allegheny vs North Hills). Bethel Park has secured 3rd place in the Southeastern Conference, but the home field will be determined by the results of this game. Two of the Three third place teams in Quad-A get home games in the first round. If Bethel Park loses, then they will be playing on the road and the other two third place finishers will play at home. If Bethel wins, then it will come down to the North Allegheny-North Hills winner and Bethel Park with the tiebreaker going to Gardner Points (see more below). The 6th place team from the Southeastern Conference will qualify for the playoffs as the "Wild Card" and Baldwin is currently in the thick of the race with Peters Twp and Mt Lebanon.
- Conference Champion: McKeesport
- Playoff Berths Clinched: McKeesport, Gateway, Penn-Trafford, Hempfield, Kiski,
- Important Games: McKeesport at Gateway, Hempfield at Penn-Trafford, Latrobe at Kiski
- McKeesport won the Conference Championship by beating Gateway on Thursday night.
- If Hempfield beats Penn-Trafford and Kiski wins, Hempfield will finish 3rd in the Conference, Kiski 4th and Penn-Trafford 5th
- If Hempfield beats Penn-Trafford and Kiski loses, Hempfield will finish 3rd in the Conference, Penn-Trafford 4th and Kiski 5th
- If Penn-Trafford beats Hempfield, Penn-Trafford will finish 2nd in the Conference, Gateway 3rd and Hempfield 4th
- Even if Gateway falls to 3rd, they will still get a first round home game due to their 7 overall wins, which are more than any other 3rd place team can get (winner of NA-NH will have 6, BP can only get to 6 with a win)
Northern Eight Conference
- Conference Champion: Central Catholic
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Central Catholic, Seneca Valley, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland
- Important Games: North Allegheny at North Hills
- Seneca Valley has secured a first round home game
- The winner of North Allegheny-North Hills will finish 3rd in the Conference and can get a first round home game if Bethel Park loses
- Conference Champion: Upper St Clair
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Upper St Clair, Woodland Hills, Bethel Park, Penn Hills
- Important Games: Baldwin at Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan at Peters Twp, Upper St Clair at Mt Lebanon, Woodland Hills at Penn Hills
- Woodland Hills has clinched 2nd place and secured a first round home game
- Penn Hills has clinched a playoff berth with 5 total wins, at worst they would finish as the "Wild Card" team.
- The 6th place team in the Southeastern Conference will win the "Wild Card" spot.
- Peters Twp clinches a playoff berth with a win over Canon-McMillan
- In a 3-way tie scenario for 4th place between Penn Hills, Peters Twp and Baldwin where all 3 teams are 4-4; Penn Hills would finish 4th, Peters Twp 5th and Baldwin 6th. Baldwin would earn the "Wild Card" playoff spot.
- In a 3-way tie scenario for 4th place between Penn Hills, Peters Twp and Mt Lebanon where all 3 teams are 4-4; Mt Lebanon would finish 4th, Penn Hills 5th and Peters Twp 6th. Peters Twp would earn the "Wild Card" playoff spot.
- In a 3-way tie scenario for 5th place between Peters Twp, Baldwin and Mt Lebanon regardless of record; Peters Twp would finish 5th based on head-to-head victories over both Baldwin and Mt Lebanon, Baldwin would finish 6th and Mt Lebanon would finish 7th. Baldwin would earn the "Wild Card" spot.
- In a 4-way tie scenario for 4th place between Penn Hills, Peters Twp, Baldwin and Mt Lebanon where all 4 teams are 4-4; Penn Hills and Peters Twp would be 2-1 head-to-head with Baldwin and Mt Lebanon 1-2. Penn Hills would finish 4th based on a head-to-head win over Peters, Peters Twp would finish 5th based on head-to-head wins over Baldwin and Mt Lebanon and Baldwin would finish 6th based on a head-to-head win over Mt Lebanon. Baldwin would earn the "Wild Card" playoff spot.
The top two 3rd place teams will earn home playoff games while the third will play on the road. Per the WPIAL tiebreaking system, the two 3rd place teams with the best overall records will earn home games, non-conference games included.
- Bethel Park will finish 3rd in the Southeastern Conference and currently has 5 total wins.
- The winner of North Hills-North Allegheny will finish 3rd in the Northern Eight Conference and will have 6 total wins.
- In the Foothills Conference, Gateway or Hempfield could finish 3rd. The 3rd place team from the Foothills Conference will have 7 wins and be guaranteed a home game.
- If Bethel Park loses, the 3rd place teams from the Foothills and Northern Eight Conferences will get home games.
- If Bethel Park wins, the 3rd place finisher in the Foothills (Gateway or Hempfield) will get a home game with 7 wins. The tiebreaker between Bethel Park (6 wins) and the North Allegheny/North Hills winner (6 wins) will be decided by Gardner Points over all 9 games. Currently: Bethel Park - 130 Gardner Points, North Allegheny - 100 Gardner Points, North Hills - 120 Gardner Points. With a win Bethel Park will get to at least 180 Gardner Points (and could get more if Mt Lebanon or Penn Hills win). North Allegheny will get to at least 150 with a win and North Hills will get to at least 170. Interestingly enough, the Pine-Richland vs Plum game could decide who gets this spot as the extra 10 Gardner Points could swing the difference.
The Race For 16th
Per the WPIAL tiebreaking system, the 16th playoff team will be decided by the 6th place team with the best overall record, non-conference games included. The 6th place team in the Southeastern Conference will win the "Wild Card" spot.
Game of the Week
Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 8-0) at West Mifflin (7-0, 8-0)
Remember at the beginning of the year when I said the AAA Game of the Week would be from the Parkway Conference every week until the last week when TJ and West Mifflin played for the Big Nine Conference Title? Well, here we are. Both teams have made it through their respective schedules unbeaten and unscathed, with both averaging over 40 points per game. West Mifflin boasts the leading rusher in Western Pennsylvania in Jimmy Wheeler who has 2008 yards and 29 touchdowns through 8 games. On the other side rival Thomas Jefferson boasts a stout defense that is only allowing 7 points per game, led by Michigan recruit Chase Winovich at linebacker. TJ has a balanced offensive approach with an 800-yard rusher in Austin Kemp and a 600-yard receiver in Dalton Dietrich. This should be another good game between rival schools with the conference championship on the line.
Big Nine Conference
- Playoff Berths Clinched: West Mifflin, Thomas Jefferson, Ringgold, Elizabeth Forward, Belle Vernon
- Important Games: Thomas Jefferson at West Mifflin, Laurel Highlands at Uniontown
- The winner of West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson will win the Conference Championship and the loser will finish 2nd
- Ringgold has clinched 3rd place, Elizabeth Forward has clinched 4th place and Belle Vernon has clinched 5th place
Greater Allegheny Conference
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Highlands, Franklin Regional, Mars
- Important Games: Hampton at Mars, Highlands at Knoch, Indiana at Hollidaysburg
- Franklin Regional, Mars and Highlands are all currently 6-1 with 1-1 head-to-head records. If all 3 end up with the same record, the tiebreaker will go to WPIAL points (currently: Mars-53, FR-47, Highlands-47)
- Franklin Regional, Mars and Highlands can all secure home games with a win
- The winner of Hollidaysburg-Indiana will clinch a playoff spot
- Hampton clinches a playoff berth with a win over Mars
- There is no scenario where Greensburg Salem or Knoch could make the playoffs, but the two can influence the playoff berths by factoring into 3-way or 4-way tiebreaker scenarios.
- If Hampton and Knoch lose, there will be a 3-way tie for 5th between Hampton, Greensburg Salem and the loser of Hollidaysburg-Indiana at 3-5.
- If the 3-way tie is between Hollidaysburg, Hampton and Greensburg Salem, Hollidaysburg would finish 5th, Hampton 6th and Greensburg Salem 7th based on head-to-head results.
- If the 3-way tie is between Indiana, Hampton and Greensburg Salem, the tiebreaker would be decided by WPIAL point differential. Currently: Indiana -4, Hampton -5 and Greensburg Salem -27. Hampton lost to Indiana head-to-head so they would need to lose by 2 less points than Indiana (assuming a loss by less than 10) than Indiana to surpass them for 5th.
- If Hampton loses and Knoch wins, there will be a 4-way tie for 5th between Hampton, Greensburg Salem, Knoch and the Hollidaysburg-Indiana loser at 3-5.
- If the 4-way tie is between Hollidaysburg, Hampton, Greensburg Salem and Knoch; Hollidaysburg (2-1 head-to-head) would be 5th, Hampton (2-1 head-to-head) would be 6th, Greensburg Salem would be 7th and Knoch would be 8th
- If the 4-way tie is between Indiana, Hampton, Greensburg Salem and Knoch, Knoch would be eliminated based on an 0-3 record head-to-head and the tiebreaker would revert back to the 3-way tie scenario between Indiana, Hampton and Greensburg Salem outlined above.
- Conference Champion: West Allegheny
- Playoff Berths Clinched: West Allegheny, Central Valley, New Castle, Moon, Montour
- Important Games: Ambridge at Blackhawk, Montour at Moon
- Central Valley has clinched second place and has secured first round home games
- New Castle has clinched 3rd place and could earn a home playoff game if Ringgold loses or if they win in a tiebreaker scenario
- The winner of Moon-Montour will finish in 4th place and the loser in 5th place
- The winner of Blackhawk-Ambridge will finish in 6th place and be in contention for the "Wild Card" spot.
The Race for 16th
The "Wild Card" spot in AAA is decided based solely on Conference Record. Depending on what happens in the Greater Allegheny Conference, there are a variety of scenarios in play here.
- Hollidaysburg - 3-4, 60 Gardner Pts
- Indiana - 3-4, 50 Gardner Pts
- Hampton - 3-4, 50 Gardner Pts
- Greensburg Salem - 3-5, 50 Gardner Pts
- Knoch - 2-5, 30 Gardner Pts
- Blackhawk - 2-5, 10 Gardner Pts
- Ambridge - 2-5, 10 Gardner Pts
Game of the Week
Kittanning (7-0, 8-0) at Shady Side Academy (7-0, 8-0)
Where did this Wildcats come from? At the beginning of the year, everyone expected Shady Side Academy to be at the top of the Allegheny Conference, but no one expected Kittanning to be here. From the MSA Sports preview Kittanning lost its quarterback, top rushers and top receivers all to graduation. The Wildcats certainly have to rebuild at the skill positions. But if the Wildcats grow up in a hurry, there is a chance they could be in the playoff hunt once again." I'll admit I didn't see much when I looked at Kittanning's roster before the season, but junior Braydon Toy has emerged as a dual-threat QB who has racked up over 1200 yards passing and 700 yards rushing this season - accounting for 27 total touchdowns. Shady Side Academy has been outstanding on both sides of the ball, averaging 36 points per game on offense. After only surrendering 94 points last season, they have only given up 65 this year. Both teams have already secured home playoff games and the winner here will hoist the Conference Championship trophy.
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Shady Side Academy, Kittanning, Summit Academy, Valley
- Important Games: Kittanning at Shady Side Academy, Freeport at Summit Academy
- The winner of Kittanning-Shady Side Academy will win the Conference Championship and the loser will come in 2nd.
- Summit Academy will finish 3rd with a win over Freeport or a Valley loss and will appear in the playoffs for the first time in school history
- Conference Champion: South Fayette
- Playoff Berths Clinched: South Fayette,Quaker Valley, South Park, Seton-La Salle
- Important Games: Seton-La Salle at South Park
- Quaker Valley has clinched 2nd place and the first home playoff game in school history
- The winner of Seton La Salle-South Park will finish in 3rd and the loser in 4th
- There are also head-to-head game for 5th place between Steel Valley and McGuffey, which will not matter for the playoffs because the 4 playoff spots have already been decided, but will be a big boost to the winner heading into the offseason.
- Conference Champion: Mt Pleasant
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Mt Pleasant, Washington
- Important Games: Jeanette at GCC, Southmoreland at Yough, Washington at Waynesburg
- The winner of Jeanette-GCC clinches a playoff berth
- Yough clinches a playoff berth with a win over Southmoreland
- If Yough loses to Southmoreland:
- If Waynesburg loses, there will be a 3-way tie for 4th between Yough, Southmoreland and the Jeanette-GCC loser at 4-4
- In a 3-way tie between Jeanette, Yough and Southmoreland, Jeanette will finish 4th (based on a 2-0 head-to-head record), Southmoreland 5th and Yough 6th
- In a 3-way tie between GCC, Yough and Southmoreland, the WPIAL points tiebreaker would decide 4th place. Currently: Yough +12, GCC +4, Southmoreland -17. In this case, a GCC loss by more than 1 would eliminate GCC and Yough would finish 4th, regardless of their margin of defeat. If GCC loses by 1, Yough would need to lose by 10+ in order for GCC to finish 4th.
- If Waynesburg wins, there will be a 4-way tie for 4th between Yough, Southmoreland, Waynesburg and the Jeanette-GCC loser at 4-4.
- In a 4-way tie between Jeanette, Yough, Southmoreland and Waynesburg; Jeanette would finish in 4th (2-1 head-to-head, beat Southmoreland), Southmoreland in 5th (2-1 head-to head), Yough 6th (1-2 head-to-head, beat Waynesburg) and Waynesburg 7th (1-2 head-to-head)
- In a 4-way tie between GCC, Yough, Southmoreland and Waynesburg, Waynesburg would be eliminated based on an 0-3 head-to-head record. The tiebreaker would then revert to the 3-way tie scenario between GCC, Yough and Southmoreland as outlined above.
- It should be noted that there is no way for Southmoreland or Waynesburg to earn playoff berths, but they can complicate the playoff scenarios if they were to win their respective games.
- Conference Champion: Aliquippa
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Aliquippa, Beaver Falls
- Important Games: Aliquippa at Beaver, New Brighton at Mohawk
- Beaver Falls will finish 2nd in the Conference and play a home playoff game
- Beaver clinches a playoff berth with a win over Aliquippa
- New Brighton clinches a playoff berth with a win over Mohawk
- Mohawk clinches a playoff berth with a win over New Brighton and a Beaver win
- If Mohawk beats New Brighton and Beaver loses to Aliquippa, there will be a 3-way tie for 3rd place that would be decided by WPIAL points. Currently: New Brighton +18, Beaver +15, Mohawk -7. In this case, the 3rd place team would be decided by WPIAL tiebreaker points and the 4th place team and final playoff spot would revert to head-to-head. Since Mohawk can not surpass New Brighton or Beaver in tiebreaker points, they would need Beaver to win the tiebreaker (lose by less than 7 to Aliquippa or by 4 less than New Brighton's margin of defeat) in order to reach the playoffs. If Beaver loses to Aliquippa by 7 or more, New Brighton and Beaver will earn the last two playoff spots.
Game of the Week
Brentwood (4-3, 4-4) at California (3-4, 3-4)
It might seem strange that I chose two middle-of-the-road teams to be my Game of the Week in Class A. However, this is the closest thing we have to a Casket Match in Class A. Brentwood and Chartiers-Houston are currently tied for the last playoff spot in the Black Hills Conference with 4-3 records and Brentwood holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. California can turn it into a 3-way tie with a win over Brentwood and a Chartiers-Houston loss to Fort Cherry. If this were to happen, Chartiers-Houston would be eliminated based on tiebreaker points. California would have to beat Brentwood by 10 or more in order to claim the last playoff spot.
Playoff ScenariosBig Seven Conference
- Conference Champion: Sto-Rox
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Sto-Rox, Neshannock, Laurel, Western Beaver
- The order of finish in the Big Seven is decided. Sto-Rox is 1st, Neshannock 2nd, Laurel 3rd and Western Beaver 4th.
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Clairton, Fort Cherry, Monessen
- Important Games: Brentwood at California, Carlynton at Monessen, Chartiers-Houston at Fort Cherry
- If Fort Cherry and Monessen win, there will be a 3-way tie for first place and the conference champion will be determined by tiebreaker points. Currently: Clairton +58, Fort Cherry +52, Monessen +50. Clairton plays a non-conference game and can not increase their tiebreaker points.
- Brentwood clinches a playoff berth with a win over California
- Chartiers-Houston clinches a playoff berth with a win over Fort Cherry and a Brentwood loss
- If California beats Brentwood by at least 10 and Chartiers-Houston loses, California will earn a playoff spot. The current tiebreaker points are: Brentwood 10, Char-Houston -4 and California -10. A Cal win by 10+ and a Char-Houston loss would put Cal and Brentwood at 0 and Char-Houston somewhere between -5 and -14. In this case Char-Houston would be eliminated and the tiebreaker would revert to head-to-head between Brentwood and California in which California would win.
- If California beats Brentwood by less than 10 and Chartiers-Houston loses, Brentwood will earn the last playoff spot based on winning the WPIAL points tiebreaker.
- Conference Champion: North Catholic
- Playoff Berths Clinched: North Catholic, Avonworth, Apollo-Ridge, West Shamokin
- Important Games: West Shamokin at Apollo-Ridge
- Avonworth has clinched 2nd place and a home playoff game.
- The winner of West Shamokin/Apollo-Ridge will finish in 3rd place. The loser will finish in 4th.
Tri-County South Conference
- Conference Champion: Beth-Center
- Playoff Berths Clinched: Beth-Center, Carmichaels, Frazier
- Important Games: Bentworth at Avella, Frazier at Mapletown
- Avella clinches their first playoff berth since 1976 with a win over Bentworth or a Mapletown loss
- Mapletown clinches a playoff berth with a win over Frazier and an Avella loss
- If Mapletown and Avella win, there will be a 3-way tie between Frazier, Avella and Mapletown for 3rd place at 5-3. The current tiebreaker points are: Frazier +32, Avella +1, Mapletown +10. Since Frazier can not be surpassed in tiebreaker points, they would be 3rd in this scenario. The tiebreaker would revert to head-to-head where Avella has a win over Mapletown.