By Matt Popchock
The field of 64 for the 2011 WPIAL football season is complete! Well, sort of.
We won’t know who’s playing whom until Monday evening, but we do know which teams will have a chance, at least on paper, to play at Heinz Field Thanksgiving weekend.
Without further ado, let’s salute this year’s playoff qualifiers:
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Pittsburgh Central Catholic (Big East), North Allegheny (Northern Seven), Upper St. Clair (Great Southern), Penn-Trafford (Foothills)
QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS: Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, Fox Chapel, Erie McDowell, Seneca Valley, Shaler, Mount Lebanon, Bethel Park, Peters Township, Gateway, McKeesport, Connellsville
WERE YOU AWARE? Connellsville grabbed the last spot in the Foothills Conference just one year after posting the longest losing streak in WPIAL Class AAAA history. Central Catholic is ranked by MaxPreps as the No. 2 team in Pennsylvania and No. 55 nationally; they rank defending PIAA champ North Allegheny No. 1 in the state and No. 31 nationally.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Central Valley (Parkway), West Mifflin/Thomas Jefferson (Big Eight), Knoch (Greater Allegheny), Franklin Regional (Keystone)
QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS: Montour, Hopewell, West Allegheny, Chartiers Valley, Belle Vernon, Indiana, Highlands, Mars, Ringgold, Greensburg-Salem, Laurel Highlands
WERE YOU AWARE? Although West Mifflin gets the No. 1 seed out of the Big Eight by having beaten TJ, the Jaguars have won or shared 11 of the last 12 conference titles. Knoch’s section title is its first since Mars joined the GAC and first perfect season ever; the Knights, who lost to eventual WPIAL champion Central Valley last year, have not won a district title since 1978.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Aliquippa (Midwestern), Freeport/Shady Side Academy (Allegheny), Seton-LaSalle (Century), Jeannette (Interstate)
QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS: Beaver Falls, Beaver, Ellwood City, Ford City, Burrell, Washington, South Fayette, Steel Valley, Greensburg Central Catholic, Mount Pleasant, East Allegheny
WERE YOU AWARE? Jeannette, Aliquippa, and Seton-LaSalle are among 12 WPIAL teams that went undefeated; Jeannette, in fact, now has 16 undefeated seasons all-time, the most in WPIAL history (Aliquippa, which clinched its 12th Friday, is right behind the Jayhawks). The Brumbaugh brothers (Luke, currently of Seton-LaSalle, and Christian, formerly of South Fayette) could become, to our knowledge, the first brothers to win consecutive district titles quarterbacking different teams.
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Bishop Canevin (Eastern), Sto-Rox (Big 7), Clairton (Black Hills), Beth-Center (Tri-County South)
QUALIFIED FOR PLAYOFFS: Avonworth, Springdale, Northgate, Monessen, California, Frazier, Rochester, Western Beaver, Cornell, Brentwood, Fort Cherry, Chartiers-Houston
WERE YOU AWARE? Two streaks, both six years in length, ended in the same game Friday night: Bishop Canevin’s streak of imperfect seasons (its last undefeated campaign was 2005), and North Catholic’s streak of playoff appearances. If Clairton repeats as PIAA champion, it will break Braddock’s 51-year-old record for the longest winning streak in WPIAL football (recorded) history.
CITY LEAGUE: Brashear has won the regular season title; University Prep is the No. 2 seed, Perry is the No. 3 seed, and Allderdice is the No. 4 seed.
Tune in to SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan Monday from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. for “The MSA Sports Football Pairings Show,” hosted by Don Rebel, live from the Radisson Hotel in Greentree, and be sure to visit the “Mr. High School Sports” blog that evening for more playoff coverage.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)