“Mr. High School Sports” – Quad-A Playoffs Take Center Stage
By Matt Popchock
For a team that bleeds black and gold, North Allegheny doesn’t seem to mind wearing red.
But Art Walker’s Tigers (11-0) have done a fine job managing the bulls-eye on its collective back, and the PIAA champions, who are currently MaxPreps’ top-ranked team in the Commonwealth and No. 31 team nationally in its Freeman (computerized) Poll, carry an 18-game winning streak into the WPIAL Semifinals.
Standing between North Allegheny and another trip to Heinz Field is Class AAAA No. 5 seed Gateway (9-2) at Fox Chapel’s James Burke Stadium for a playoff game that will be televised on ROOT Sports, it was announced Tuesday.
Terry Smith’s team will try to pull an upset, and he knows a thing or two about both getting to Heinz Field and being on the wrong end of upsets. From 2007 through 2009 Gateway made it to the WPIAL Class AAAA Final, but was stunned by Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Bethel Park, and Woodland Hills in consecutive years.
Speaking of Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Terry Totten, whose Vikings beat Smith’s Gators on the North Shore four seasons ago, has also fielded a team that has handled its business quite well.
No. 2 seed Central Catholic (11-0) is the No. 3 team in Pennsylvania according to MaxPreps, and the Vikings will battle No. 3 seed Upper St. Clair (10-1), the No. 5 team in the state, in another WPIAL Semifinal contest at Chartiers Valley Stadium Friday night. We are proud to announce that will be our “UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Game of the Week” on SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan, as confirmed on air Tuesday.
That one will be a matchup of top quarterbacks, as Central’s Perry Hills, a Maryland recruit, and USC’s Dakota Conwell, a Pitt (defensive) recruit, go head to head. Having said that, it will also be a battle of top-notch ground attacks, as Conwell is one of the premier dual-threat passers in the district, and Central Catholic running back Damion Jones-Moore has over 4,000 career rushing yards.
Conwell, however, did not run after suffering a leg injury in the Quarterfinal round, though he did finish USC’s win over Erie McDowell.
Both games are scheduled for a 7:30 P.M. kickoff Friday. Pre-game coverage on ROOT Sports will begin at 7:00, and pre-game coverage of “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services Game of the Week,” hosted by our friends at the MSA Sports Network, will begin at 6:00 on The Fan.
Keep reading the “Mr. High School Sports” blog and check out “The UPMC Centers for Rehab Services High School Football Show,” brought to you by ROOT Sports and hosted by John Phillips, this Saturday for more WPIAL Football Playoff coverage.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)