WPIAL deals playoff hands to football qualifiers
GREEN TREE – The two happiest people inside the Salon Ballroom in the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Monday were Ryan Cecchini and Mike Bosnic.
And for very different reasons.
Cecchini, the football coach at Avella, and Bosnic, the head coach at Washington, were at the WPIAL pairings meeting to find out the opponents for the first round of the playoffs, which begin Friday.
Neither coach was sure he would be there until the final week of the season.
Avella earned its spot Friday with a victory over Bentworth in the regular-season finale. Wash High earned its berth the previous day in a teleconference call when the PIAA announced it was overturning a ruling by the WPIAL and restoring five forfeits to victories.
Washington will host Seton-LaSalle in a first-round game Friday night and grabbed the No. 7 seed in Class AA.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks,” said Bosnic. “We had a good practice (Monday), and I think it’s because they were excited to focus on just football for the week.”
Avella, the No. 16 seed and fourth-place team in the Tri-County South Conference, is making its first playoff appearance in 37 years. The Eagles travel to top-seeded Sto-Rox in Class A. The last time Avella was in the playoffs was 1976, when it made the second of two consecutive appearances in the Class A finals.
“This was no big surprise to us,” said Cecchini of drawing the top seed. “We expected it would happen. We’re just happy to be here. The pressure is completely off us now. Our kids are excited. None of them has been in this situation before.”
All first-round games begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be played Friday evening.
Upper St. Clair took the top seed in Class AAAA, West Allegheny is No. 1 in Class AAA, and Aliquippa heads Class AA.
Nine local teams earned playoff berths and first-round games.
Peters Township, a 14th seed, travels to No. 3-seed McKeesport in Class AAAA. Ringgold, the eighth seed in Class AAA, gets a home game against Indiana. South Fayette, the No. 2 seed in Class AA, hosts Greensburg Central Catholic.
In Class A, Monessen got the third seed after finishing tied for first in the Black Hills Conference, and hosts West Shamokin, which is making its first appearance in the WPIAL playoffs. Despite having an undefeated record, Beth-Center, the Tri-County South Conference champion, received an eighth seed and will host Apollo Ridge. Carmichaels, the second-place team in the Tri-County South Conference, received a fifth seed and hosts No. 12 Fort Cherry.
The seeding for the Tri-County South Conference teams seemed out of whack. Carmichaels, which lost to Beth-Center, 28-22, in Week 3, got a higher seed but probably drew a tougher opponent in Fort Cherry, which has one of the highest scoring offenses in the WPIAL at 49.9 points per game and finished tied with Clairton and Monessen atop the Black Hills Conference.
“I’m never any good at guessing seeds and picking where we’ll be,” said Beth-Center head coach Ed Woods before the meeting. “I just feel fortunate we’ll be playing in a postseason game.”
If the Bulldogs defeat Apollo Ridge, the third-place team in the Eastern Conference, they will get the Sto-Rox-Avella winner.
Washington, which last won a WPIAL title in 2001, could face South Fayette in the second round. The two teams met in last year’s semifinals at Chartiers Valley High School, a 26-14 Washington win.
“These are always tough games,” said South Fayette head coach Joe Rossi. “Greensburg Central Catholic is a pretty good 15th seed. I’m just worried about the first game and hope we can survive it. GCC is very talented.”
Ringgold, the third-place team in the Big 9 Conference, would draw West Allegheny if the Rams get by Indiana.
Quarterfinals are, Nov. 8, semifinals are Nov. 15 and the finals are Nov. 23 at Heinz Field. The Class A championship game is at 11 a.m., Quad-A is at 2 p.m., Class AA at 5 p.m. and Class AAA at 8 p.m. The first two games will be televised live by Root; the final two will be tape-delayed. … There are 12 undefeated teams in the playoffs.