Monday, August 4, 2014

Suggestions for the ROOT Sports WPIAL Game of the Week

Last year, the WPIAL signed a five-year television deal to extend their broadcasts on ROOT Sports. This included weekly broadcasts of WPIAL games as well as broadcasting one playoff game in the first three rounds and each of the four WPIAL Championship Games. Since ROOT Sports has not yet announced their lineup of gaems for 2014, I thought I'd get a head start and throw out my suggestions for which games they should broadcast each week.

While ROOT Sports doesn't have any published policies about their broadcasts, a few trends have emerged in the last few seasons:
- At least one game from each of the four classifications
- Games that highlight and showcase top players
- No more than one broadcast of a given team during the regular season

Using these general principles as a guide, here are the games that I would like to see get top billing on ROOT Sports during the 2014 season. As it worked out, I wound up with 3 Quad-A games and 2 games from each of the other three classifications.

Week 1
Ringgold at Thomas Jefferson

There are other games that might be more high-profile, but in trying to stick with the "only show each team once" principle, I had to eliminate some of the other games. This game would be great because of all the nicknames and puns that Craig Wolfley could make up for Ringgold dual-threat QB Nico Law.

Honorable Mentions: Central Valley at Montour, North Allegheny at Seneca Valley, Upper St Clair at Penn Hills, West Allegheny at New Castle

Week 2
Chartiers-Houston at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic

The defending Class A Champions and star RB PJ Fulmore get top-billing in Week 2. I chose this North Catholic game because their home game against Avonworth in Week 7 is Homecoming and I doubt CWNC would move their homecoming game from a Friday to a Thursday (even though CWNC-Avonworth would be must-see TV).

Honorable Mentions: Pine-Richland at North Allegheny, Woodland Hills at Bethel Park, Shady Side Academy at Burrell, Valley at Apollo-Ridge, Laurel at Aliquippa,

Week 3
Penn-Trafford at McKeesport

This game presents a small hurdle in that it is currently scheduled for Saturday, September 13 at 1:00pm. Would McKeesport be willing to move the game to Thursday night to accommodate ROOT Sports? We can only hope because these are the two clear frontrunners in the Foothills Conference and this game will likely decide the Conference Champion.

Honorable Mentions: North Allegheny at Central Catholic, Franklin Regional at Mars, South Fayette at South Park, Kittanning at Apollo-Ridge, Clairton at GCC

Week 4
 Apollo-Ridge at Shady Side Academy

Shady Side Academy has been a dominant force in the Allegheny Conference in recent years. Apollo-Ridge moves up to AA this year and features one of the best all-around players in the WPIAL in Tre Tipton.

Honorable Mentions: Upper St Clair at North Allegheny, Gateway at Knoch, Indiana at Franklin Regional, Clairton at Springdale, Brentwood at CWNC

Week 5
Woodland Hills at Upper St Clair

This will be the 5th meeting in 3 seasons between Woody High and Upper St Clair. The Panthers have won both regular season games while the Wolverines have won both playoff matchups. These are two of the top teams in the Southeastern Conference (and probably in all of Quad-A) as well as two of the most legendary coaches in Western Pennsylvania history. 

Honorable Mentions: Penn Hills at Baldwin, West Allegheny at Montour, Mount Pleasant at Washington, Springdale at Jeanette

Week 6
Jeanette at Clairton

There are some other worthy games this week, but as soon as the WPIAL realignment was announced, everyone circled the pending Jeanette-Clairton matchup on their notes.  For years Jeanette was a Single-A sized school that played up and dominated in AA. Now, they have moved down to Single-A and will face powerhouse Clairton in a matchup that will likely decide the conference champion. If ROOT Sports does one thing this year, they need to get Jeanette-Clairton on the air.

Honorable Mentions: Pine-Richland at Seneca Valley, Gateway at Mars, CWNC at Ft Cherry, Beaver at Aliquippa

Week 7
Central Catholic at Seneca Valley

Who doesn't want to see Seneca Valley's explosive offense against Terry Totten's shutdown defense? Seneca Valley has a chance to make school history this year with all of their returning talent on offense. Central Catholic returns a number of players from their WPIAL champion defense and have a slew of offensive playmakers that should be getting D1 scholarship offers. All told, this is a can't-miss showdown in the Northern Eight.

Honorable Mentions: Avonworth at CWNC, Neshannock at Rochester, Mars at Knoch, Seton-La Salle at Quaker Valley

Week 8
South Fayette at Seton-La Salle

At some point this season,  South Fayette QB Brett Brumbaugh will surpass his brother Christian's school record for passing yards and touchdowns. Brett enters 2014 with just shy of 5,000 yards while Christian's school record is 7,163. Seton-La Salle is likely the only team in the conference that can challenge the defending AA Champions and it would be crazy for ROOT sports not to showcase Brett Brumbaugh at least once this season.

Honorable Mentions: Mount Pleasant at Aliquippa, Shady Side Academy at Kittanning, Thomas Jefferson at Franklin Regional

Week 9
West Allegheny at Central Valley

A rematch of last year's AAA Championship game that features two of the top players in the WPIAL in Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead and West Allegheny's Chayse Dillon. ROOT would be crazy not to line up West A and Central Valley for the regular season finale (though the Beaver Falls-Aliquippa showdown at The Pit would make for good television as well). 

Honorable Mentions: Beaver Falls at Aliquippa, Gateway at Franklin Regional, North Hills at North Allegheny, Penn Hills at Woodland Hills, Upper St Clair at Mt Lebanon, West Mifflin at Thomas Jefferson, Quaker Valley at South Fayette

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