If you're going to be at home tonight, keep an eye on the following hashtags on Twitter to follow along as people post score updates from games: #WPIAL #MSAscores #Skylights
Also, if you're not already, follow the @MSAsports twitter account which will post score updates and bookmark the MSA Scoreboard for quick reference at the end of the night. They get the final scores up faster than anyone. Also, MSA Sports broadcasts most games over the internet, here is their list of the games they will be broadcasting tonight.
I'll update my WPIAL Standings Page at the end of the night. It's the only one available that includes all playoff tiebreakers (Gardner Points, WPIAL Points Tiebreaker and Head-to-Head wins).
AAAA Game of the Week
Pine-Richland (6-0, 7-0) at Central Catholic (5-0, 7-0)
Two undefeated teams with the Northern Eight title on the line face off at Highmark Stadium on Friday night. The Riverhounds stadium is an excellent venue with the backdrop of the downtown skyline and will play host to the ROOT Sports Game of the Week. This will be a matchup of strength on strength as Pine-Richland boasts the top offense in Quad-A and Central Catholic has the top defense in Quad-A. Central Catholic is the defending Northern Eight and WPIAL AAAA Champions while Pine-Richland has never made it out of the first round of the playoffs in 6 years since moving up from AAA. Pine-Richland QB Ben DiNucci leads the WPIAL in passing with 1915 yards and 23 TDs. His primary targets have been senior WRs Mike Merhaut (678 yards, 9 TDs) and D'Ondre Gastion (492 yards, 9 TDs). The Rams have a solid ground game, led by senior RB Connor Slomka's 609 yards and 14 TDs. Central Catholic's strength is on the defensive side of the ball where they have pitched 4 shutouts in 7 games but their offense is no slouch either. Senior RB Grant Foster has been a workhorse, running for 454 yards and 12 TDs while Brian Totten has added 330 yards and 2 TDs while two other backs (Ronnie Jones and Vinny Emanuele) have also run for over 200. Both teams have already clinched home playoff games and the winner will take the conference title (and possibly the top overall seed in the Quad-A bracket as Woodland Hills lost to West Allegheny last week).
Honorable Mentions: Plum at Penn-Trafford, Norwin at McKeesport, Butler at Fox Chapel, Woodland Hills at Mt Lebanon
Penn-Trafford is a win away from clinching the Foothills Conference title while Plum, who entered this season with a WPIAL-leading losing streak, has also clinched a spot in the playoffs. Currently, Altoona, Plum and Norwin sit in a 3-way tie at 3rd through 5th in the Foothills. Norwin has also clinched a playoff spot but can elevate themselves into the race for second place and a home playoff game if they can find a way to beat McKeesport this week. The Foothills is the only conference in Quad-A with two games between teams that have clinched playoff spots. In the Northern Eight, Butler and Fox Chapel are battling for the last playoff spot in the conference as the top four spots are locked down. A Fox Chapel win would clinch a playoff spot for the Foxes while a Butler win would keep hope alive for both Butler and Seneca Valley heading into the final week of the season when Fox Chapel plays a non-conference game. At the beginning of the season, the Southeastern Conference was seen as the best conference in Quad-A, but its teams have not fared well in non-conference play, including against AAA opponents. Woodland Hills is still unbeaten in conference play while Mt Lebanon sits in 3rd place and still has an outside shot at the conference title if they win out.
Foothills Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Penn-Trafford, McKeesport, Plum and Norwin have clinched a playoff spots.
- Penn-Trafford clinches the Conference title with a win over Plum.
- McKeesport clinches a home playoff game with a win over Norwin.
- Altoona clinches a playoff spot with a win over Hempfield or a Connellsville loss.
Northern Eight Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Pine-Richland, Central Catholic, North Allegheny and North Hills have clinched a playoff spots.
- Pine-Richland and Central Catholic have clinched home playoff games.
- The winner of the Central Catholic-Pine Richland game will win the conference title.
- Fox Chapel clinches a playoff spot with a win over Butler.
Southeastern Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Woodland Hills, Penn Hills, Mt Lebanon and Upper St Clair have clinched playoff spots.
- Bethel Park clinches a playoff spot with a win over Peters Twp.
AAA Game of the Week
Thomas Jefferson (7-0, 7-0) at Franklin Regional (5-2, 5-2)
The AAA Game of the Week is once again a non-conference game. Thomas Jefferson has run away with the Big Nine Conference while Franklin Regional currently sits in second place in the Greater Allegheny Conference. This game means more for potential playoff seedings than it does for either team in the regular season. A win over the top team in the Big Nine would be a huge boost for the GAC where middle-of-the-pack teams have spent most of the season beating each other and dropping their records. On the other hand, the WPIAL seeding committee is going to have an interesting decision if they want to separate West Allegheny and Central Valley in the AAA bracket. Would the committee jump the loser of next week's West A-Central Valley game over an undefeated conference champion from the Big Nine or GAC? It would be easier for the committee to separate West A and Central Valley if TJ or Hampton lost one of their next two games, so this game is important for TJ as far as postseason seeding. The Jaguars have the highest scoring offense in AAA along with the best defense and the WPIAL's leading rusher in Austin Kemp (1462 yards, 32 TDs).
Honorable Mentions: Ringgold at Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands at Belle Vernon, Hollidaysburg at Mars, Knoch at Indiana, West Allegheny at Moon, Chartiers Valley at New Castle
Ringgold and West Mifflin have pulled ahead of the middle of the pack in the Big Nine Conference into 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. Behind them, Laurel Highlands, Belle Vernon and Elizabeth Forward are all tied at 3-3. Belle Vernon has two huge games to finish the season against Laurel Highlands and Elizabeth Forward which will determine their playoff fate. Elizabeth Forward already has a loss to Laurel Highlands and needs a win in the next two weeks to help their case for the playoffs. The GAC is even more of a mess than the Big Nine. Behind Hampton and Franklin Regional, 5 teams are tied with 3-3 records. Four of those five face off this week as Hollidaysburg plays Mars and Knoch plays Indiana. The winners will put themselves in excellent position to finish in the top 5 and make the playoffs. In the Parkway Conference, West Allegheny and Central Valley have run out to a 2-game lead and are headed for a showdown next week. First, West Allegheny must get past a Moon team that has already clinched a playoff spot. Chartiers Valley and New Castle are currently tied for the last playoff spot from the Parkway Conference. This isn't quite a casket match as Blackhawk has a win over New Castle and could hop New Castle by virtue of wining a head-to-head tiebreaker for the last spot.
Big Nine Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Thomas Jefferson, Ringgold and West Mifflin have clinched a playoff spots.
- Thomas Jefferson has clinched a home playoff game.
- Ringgold and West Mifflin can clinch home playoff games with wins over Elizabeth Forward and Trinity, respectively.
- Laurel Highlands clinches a playoff spot with a win over Belle Vernon and an Elizabeth Forward loss.
Greater Allegheny Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Hampton has clinched the conference title.
- Franklin Regional has clinched a playoff spot.
Parkway Conference Playoff Scenarios
- West Allegheny, Central Valley, Montour, and Moon have clinched playoff spots.
- Central Valley has clinched a home playoff game.
- West Allegheny clinches a home playoff game with a win over Moon.
- Chartiers Valley clinches a playoff spot with a win over New Castle.
AA Game of the Week
South Fayette (7-0, 7-0) at Seton-La Salle (7-0, 7-0)
The Defending AA State Champions face their biggest test of the Century Conference slate in Seton-La Salle. Last season, South Fayette beat Seton-La Salle in the regular season and in the quarterfinals. There was a lot of talk out of the Rebels this offseason about setting their sites on the State Title and an undefeated season. But they have to get by South Fayette first. The Lions, led by the WPIAL's all-time leading passer Brett Brumbaugh, have been absolutely slaughtering teams this year. They have the second best offense in AA and the second-best defense. Seton-La Salle statistically has the best defense, but they have not played a team as explosive as South Fayette yet. Brett Brumbaugh has thrown for 1537 yards and 20 TDs this year, spreading the ball around to 3 receivers (Nick Ponikvar, Logan Sharp and Roman Denson) who all have over 350 receiving yards. The Lions are solid on the ground as well, with RB Hunter Hays having run for 637 yards and 15 TDs. Seton-La Salle has a talented QB of their own in Tyler Perone, but he just lost his biggest play-maker in Danzel McKinley-Lewis due to a ridiculous WPIAL "red card" rule because he got 2 personal foul penalties. The Rebels will need to rely on RB Ricky Mellick (690 yards, 7 TDs) on the ground and their other receivers if they're going to de-throne the champs. Both teams have clinched home playoff games so all that is left to decide is the conference title, which the winner of this game will take home.
Honorable Mentions: Shady Side Academy at Kittanning, South Park at Steel Valley, Waynesburg at McGuffey, Southmoreland at Washington, New Brighton at Beaver Falls, Mt Pleasant at Aliquippa
Shady Side Academy and Kittanning played one of the most memorable games on the AA slate last year with Kittanning prevailing and winning the conference title thanks to a penalty after an SSA touchdown at the end of regulation that pushed back the extra point. SSA missed the extra point and Kittanning won by 1. Now, the two are solidified as the 3rd and 4th teams in the Allegheny Conference and are battling for playoff positioning. The winner will clinch a playoff berth and the loser will also do so if Ford City loses. Similarly, in the Century Conference, South Park and Steel Valley sit 3rd and 4th in the standings and the winner of this game secures a playoff spot. The loser can also secure a spot if Quaker Valley loses. The winner of this game will also likely avoid Aliquippa in the first round of the playoffs. In the Interstate Conference, Waynesburg, McGuffey and Southmoreland are battling for the final 2 playoff spots while Washington has secured a spot and could clinch the conference title this week. Southmoreland is trying to reach the postseason for the first time since 1979 but needs to find a win against one of the top teams in the conference. In the Midwestern Conference, New Brighton needs a win over Beaver Falls to lock up 2nd place in the conference and secure a home playoff game. Despite their 35-0 loss to Beaver, Beaver Falls still has an outside shot at the conference title if they can beat New Brighton and Aliquippa in the last two weeks. Speaking of the Quips, they have a non-conference game against Mt Pleasant who currently sits in 2nd place in the Interstate Conference. This game has more importance for playoff seeding than it does for either team in the regular season.
Allegheny Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Highlands and Apollo-Ridge have clinched playoff spots.
- Highlands clinches the conference title (and naming rights to the bridge) with a win over Valley.
- Apollo-Ridge clinches a home playoff game with a win over Deer Lakes.
- Shady Side Academy clinches a playoff spot with a win over Kittanning or a Ford City loss.
- Kittanning clinches a playoff spot with a win over Shady Side Academy or a Ford City loss.
Century Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Seton-La Salle and South Fayette have clinched playoff spots and home playoff games.
- The winner of the Seton-La Salle-South Fayette game will win the conference title.
- The winner of South Park-Steel Valley clinches a playoff spot.
- The loser of South Park-Steel Valley clinches a playoff spot if Quaker Valley loses to East Allegheny.
Interstate Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Washington has clinched a playoff spot.
- Washington clinches the conference title with a win over Southmoreland and a McGuffey loss.
- Mt Pleasant plays a non-conference game but can clinch a playoff spot if Waynesburg or Southmoreland lose.
- McGuffey clinches a playoff spot with a win over Waynesburg.
Midwestern Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Aliquippa and New Brighton have clinched playoff spots.
- Aliquippa plays a non-conference game but can clinch the conference title if Beaver Falls loses.
- New Brighton clinches a home playoff game with a win over Beaver Falls.
- Beaver Falls clinches a playoff spot with a win over New Brighton or an Ellwood City loss.
- Beaver clinches a playoff spot with a win over Freedom and an Ellwood City loss.
A Game of the Week
Clairton (6-0, 7-0) at Monessen (4-3, 4-3)
Monessen is fighting for their playoff lives. The Greyhounds have a non-conference game next week so this is their last game against an Eastern Conference foe. If Clairton emerges victorious, Monessen would miss the playoffs if Springdale wins one of their final two games. Clairton is absolutely loaded with talented players and will be out for blood against a Monessen team that ended their 66-game winning streak last season. The Greyhounds have done most of their offensive damage through the air this year, led by QB Noah Rullo, but they have a difficult task against a Clairton secondary loaded with D1 recruits. The Bears have set an historic pace on offense, putting up 496 points in 7 games, an average of 70.9 points per game. Incredibly, Clairton should surpass the regular season WPIAL scoring record of 513 points set by the 2007 Terrelle Pryor Jeannette team. That Jeannette team also set the State Record for points in a season with 860 through 16 games. If Clairton continues at their current pace of over 70 points per game, they would need just 5 more games to surpass Jeannette's record. The Bears have unbelievable talent on this team, from QB Ryan Williams (1262 yards, 18 TDs) to his top receivers Aaron Williams (321 yards, 9 TDs) and James Hines (390 yards, 5 TDs). Top RB Harrison Dreher was injured in Week 4 but Lamont Wade has taken the helm and run for 991 yards and 19 TDs. Clairton's historic scoring pace could force the WPIAL selection committee to break from tradition of awarding an undefeated defending champion the top overall seed and put Clairton in the top slot for Class A.
Honorable Mentions: Shenango at Riverside, South Side Beaver at Avonworth, Chartiers-Houston at Neshannock, GCC at Springdale, Jefferson-Morgan at Beth-Center, Carmichaels at Avella
Outside of Neshannock, the Big Seven Conference has been a surprise this season. Shenango has not made the playoffs since 2006 when they played in AA and they have clinched a playoff spot and can secure a home playoff game with a win over Riverside. Riverside is likewise in position to make the playoffs and has multiple avenues to get there. There are two big non-conference games that are worth paying attention to. Avonworth (who has secured 2nd place in the Black Hills) plays South Side Beaver, who has clinched a playoff spot in the Big Seven. Chartiers-Houston (who will likely have a casket match with Fort Cherry next week for the final playoff spot in the Black Hills) faces Big Seven Conference Champion Neshannock. Since both games feature teams in playoff position, they will be important to pay attention to in order to scale the relative strengths of each conference. In the Eastern Conference, Springdale could clinch a playoff spot with a Monessen loss and if the Dynamos win one of their two remaining games. Many wrote off Springdale after they lost to Leechburg early in the season but the Dynamos have rebounded and could finish as high as 3rd in the conference if they win out. Beth-Center can win the Tri-County South title with a win over Jefferson-Morgan who is locked in a tight battle with Carmichaels, Bentworth and Avella for the last playoff spot. All signs point to a Carmichaels-Jefferson Morgan casket match next week.
Big Seven Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Neshannock has clinched the conference title.
- Shenango and South Side Beaver have clinched playoff spots.
- Shenango clinches a home playoff game with a win over Riverside.
- Riverside clinches a playoff spot with a win over Shenango or a Vincentian loss.
Black Hills Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic has clinched the conference title.
- Avonworth has clinched a home playoff game.
- Brentwood clinches a playoff spot with a win over OLSH and a Bishop Canevin loss.
Eastern Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Clairton and Jeannette have clinched a playoff spots.
- Clairton clinches a home playoff game with a win over Monessen.
- GCC clinches a playoff spot with a win over Springdale.
- Monessen clinches a playoff spot with a win over Clairton and a Springdale loss.
- Springdale clinches a playoff spot with a win over GCC and losses by Monessen and Riverview.
Tri-County South Conference Playoff Scenarios
- Beth-Center has clinched a home playoff game.
- Beth-Center clinches the conference title with a win over Jefferson-Morgan.
- Frazier and Mapletown have clinched playoff spots.