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The WPIAL announced its six playoff brackets Monday night in preparation for two championship dates on November 16 and 23.
Four classes – 1A, 3A, 4A and 6A – will play November 16 at Heinz Field while Norwin will host the Class 2A and 5A championship games November 23.
There are plenty of feel-good stories heading into the playoff announcement including Southmoreland qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in 40 years and Cornell hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1983.
The playoffs will begin Friday night, and here are three early reactions to the six brackets.
Seedings in 5A
A lot has been made of the WPIAL’s most competitive conference and how the seedings would shake out. One conference appeared to be more competitive, while the other two conferences were decidedly top heavy.
The top two teams from each conference were guaranteed home games, and with the depth of the conference, the drama will start as soon as the quarterfinals.
Ultimately, the No. 1 seed was awarded to Penn Trafford, who’s only loss was to Massillon Ohio in late September.
Gateway is the No. 2 seed, and may be the hottest team coming into the 5A playoffs, despite a loss to Massillon a few weeks ago.
Defending WPIAL Champion Penn Hills is the No. 3 seed, and Moon is the No. 4 seed. Moon and Peters Township were co-champions in the Big East Conference. The Indians are the No. 5 seed, which sets up an interesting possible quarterfinals matchup.
No real surprises with the seedings, the committee rewarding Penn Trafford and Gateway for their stellar regular seasons.
Three-team race in 2A
Four teams finished the WPIAL regular season undefeated, three of them are in Class 2A.
It’s no surprise Washington received the No. 1 seed as the second-best offense in the area, leaving Avonworth and Burgettstown on the other side of the bracket.
As is with 5A, the 16-team field means an extra week of games, and some marquee matchups in the second week of action.
An interesting team to keep an eye on is No. 6 McGuffey, who has wins this season over Clariton and Southmoreland.
The Highlanders stumbled into the playoffs as they played No. 9 Charleroi, No. 2 Avonworth and No. 1 Washington in the season’s final three games. McGuffey defeated Charleroi but lost to Avonworth and Washington, as the team has been in playoff mode since October 11.
Someone had to host Jeannette
Jeannette’s loss to Clairton last week meant the team would not be one of the four teams who would host a playoff game.
The question then became, which of the four teams that did earn a home playoff game do you “reward” with a first-round matchup against the Jayhawks.
The biggest game this week will be when No. 3 Sto-Rox hosts No. 6 Jeannette.
Sto-Rox’s Eric Wilson is the WPIAL’s second leading passer with 2,509 yards, and the Vikings resume includes an 80-0 win over Northgate and a 56-0 win over Imani Christian.