WPIAL reveals football playoff brackets, surprises with No.1 seed in 2A

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Saturday 30 October 2021 | 6:59 p.m.


Within a year, Steel Valley went from one season to a No.1 seed in the WPIAL Football Playoffs.

The Ironmen rebounded from a record 1-5 a year ago to win the Allegheny Conference title this fall with an unbeaten record. That comeback story earned Steel Valley the No.1 seed in Class 2A, which was one of the biggest surprises on Saturday when the brackets were revealed on TribLive HSSN.

Even the Steel Valley coach called the seed an unexpected.

But the Football Committee’s decision is certainly not unwarranted, not for a 9-0 team with the rushed WPIAL leader in its backfield.

“I was surprised because everyone had a Sto-Rox, and I just assumed it would be,” Steel Valley coach Ray Braszo said. “They’ve been like this all year. … But I thought if everyone (on the committee) sat down in a meeting and reviewed things that they always talk about – like the strength of the calendar – we would stand a chance.

Sto-Rox (10-0) was also undefeated this season, a year after finishing second in the WPIAL. Still, the WPIAL ranked Sto-Rox second in a ranking that has four undefeated teams. Laurel (10-0) was seeded third and Washington (9-0) fourth.

Sto-Rox coach LaRoi Johnson said he wasn’t worried about decisions beyond his control, like perhaps being snubbed for a No.1 seed, but added that his players will surely notice it.

The Vikings were ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and the State in the latest HSSN rankings.

“We try to use everything as motivation,” Johnson said. “We’ll use anything to start a fire. It will definitely be a motivator, so I really appreciate it. I don’t think I really need to say anything to my kids.

Mt. Lebanon in class 6A, Moon in 5A, Belle Vernon in 4A, Central Valley in 3A and Clairton in A also won the # 1 ranking.

The playoffs start on Friday. See WPIAL playoff brackets here.

WPIAL returns to Heinz Field this season for five championship games from November 26-27. The league did not use the North Shore Stadium for its finals last season due to pandemic restrictions, but this year will be there for two days of championships.

However, the Class 6A final takes place a week earlier, at 7 p.m. on November 20 at Norwin. This site was revealed with playoff support.

The WPIAL football committee took three hours on Saturday to organize the tournaments. The 12-person panel worked under new leadership with Norwin athletic director Mike Burrell and Brentwood director Jason Olexa, now co-chairs of the committee.

“The 2A and 5A (parentheses) were the toughest of the six,” Burrell said. “But I think the most important debate of all was 5A.”

In this ranking, WPIAL had to decide where to place the three North Eastern Conference champions. Ultimately, the committee ranked Pine-Richland third, Penn Hills fifth, and North Hills sixth despite corresponding records in the conference. One factor used to break the tie was common opponents, as Pine-Richland beat Gateway, 21-7; while Penn Hills lost to the Gators, 41-13.

Penn-Trafford was second and Gateway fourth.

“It was a great conversation between the whole committee,” said Burrell. “Do you think North Hills has had a great year and, dammit, they’re six?” The committee stopped and said, “These are not seeds of six. But if you look at one to five, where do you put them? There is nowhere to go is how many good football teams there are in 5A.

Among the other decisions:

• In classes 3A and 4A, WPIAL seeded a No. 3 team to a second place team ahead of a champion from another conference. The move particularly benefited McKeesport, who received a pass in the first round, unlike No.4 Hampton. Hampton won the Greater Allegheny while McKeesport was second in the Big Eight.

The strength of the conference made the difference.

“Look at Belle Vernon, McKeesport, Thomas Jefferson – it’s a conference meat grinder,” said Burrell of the Big Eight. “We all felt that looking at McKeesport’s overall record and Hampton’s overall record, we felt that McKeesport had a more difficult road. “

Avonworth was seeded third in Class 3A on Elizabeth Forward.

• Hampton has a first-round game against Plum, which is a rematch of a conference game the Talbots won 35-7 on October 8. Traditionally, the WPIAL had avoided first-round conference revenges.

“It’s a rule but an unwritten rule,” Burrell said. “If you can avoid conference games, do it. We looked at it and figured the last-place team in the tournament was Plum. “

Still, the decision to seed Steel Valley before Sto-Rox might be the most unexpected decision. The committee did it based on the strength of the schedule, Burrell said. Sto-Rox beat McGuffey and Avonworth, but Steel Valley had non-conference wins over playoffs Clairton, Keystone Oaks and East Allegheny, as well as a solid conference victory over Serra Catholic on Friday.

“Steel Valley has had some great victories throughout the year,” said Burrell. “Sto-Rox also had a very good year. But we thought all of Steel Valley’s hard work throughout the regular season put them in unison. “

This year’s success has been a refreshing boost for Steel Valley, its players and its coaching staff. It’s also a measure of justification for Braszo, who returned to his alma mater three years ago when West Mifflin decided to replace him.

His first two return seasons were difficult. The Ironmen went 4-5 in 2019 with problems off the field, and Braszo was concerned that they wouldn’t have enough players to finish the season.

“The children would stop. The children weren’t coming to train, ”he said. “It was a pretty dismal end to this first year.”

Then came the pandemic.

Steel Valley won just one game in a covid-cut season last fall. Yet behind 1,600-yard rusher Nijhay Burt, the Ironmen are now aiming for their third WPIAL title since 2016.

“After the first year, with all the things that we’ve been through, people probably thought that maybe we wouldn’t be standing around to deal with it all,” Braszo said. “We did it, and it worked.”

Watch Trib HSSN’s archived video stream of the media reveal here.

Class 6A

Quarter-finals

Friday program

Canon-McMillan (4-6) at North Allegheny (6-4), 7 p.m.

Semi finals

Friday November 12

Winner Canon-McMillan / North Allegheny at Mont Liban (10-0), 7 p.m.

Seneca Valley (7-3) vs. Central Catholic (8-2) at Baldwin, 7 p.m.

Class 5A

First round

Friday program

Woodland Hills (4-6) at Bethel Park (5-5), 7 p.m.

Franklin Regional (3-7) at Penn Hills (6-3), 7 p.m.

Fox Chapel (4-6) at Upper St. Clair (6-4), 7 p.m.

Township of Peters (6-4) at North Hills (7-3), 7 p.m.

Quarter-finals

Friday November 12

Winner of Woodland Hills / Bethel Park at Moon (10-0), 7 p.m.

Franklin Regional / Penn Hills winner at Gateway (7-3), 7 p.m.

Winner Fox Chapel / Upper St. Clair at Penn-Trafford (8-2), 7 p.m.

Township of Peters / North Hills at Pine-Richland (6-4), 7 p.m.

Class 4A

First round

Friday program

New Castle (6-4) at Highlands (7-3), 7 p.m.

Plum (3-7) at Hampton (10-0), 7 p.m.

Indiana (5-5) at Thomas Jefferson (7-3), 7 p.m.

Laurel Highlands (7-3) at Beaver (7-2), 7 p.m.

Montour (4-6) at Armstrong (7-3), 7 p.m.

Quarter-finals

Friday November 12

Winner of New Castle / Highlands at Belle Vernon (8-0), 7 p.m.

Winner Plum / Hampton vs. Thomas Jefferson / Winner Indiana

Winner of Laurel Highlands / Beaver to Aliquippa (8-1)

Montour / Armstrong at McKeesport (8-2), 7 p.m.

Class 3A

First round

Friday matches

East Allegheny (4-5) at Southmoreland (7-3), 7 p.m.

Ambridge (2-8) at Freeport (5-4), 7 p.m.

South Allegheny (4-6) at Keystone Oaks (5-5), 7 p.m.

Burrell (3-7) at Mt. Pleasant (5-4), 7 p.m.

Quarter-finals

Friday November 12

Winner of East Allegheny / Southmoreland at Central Valley (10-0), 7 p.m.

Ambridge / Freeport winner at Elizabeth Forward (8-2), 7 p.m.

Winner of South Allegheny / Keystone Oaks at North Catholic (10-0), 7 p.m.

Burrell / Mt. Pleasant winner at Avonworth (8-2), 7 p.m.

Class 2A

First round

Friday program

Beth-Center (2-6) at Steel Valley (9-0), 7 p.m.

Ligonier Valley (8-2) at Côté Sud (6-3), 7 p.m.

New Brighton (4-6) at Washington (9-0), 7 p.m.

Western Beaver (7-2) vs. Beaver Falls (6-3) at the Collège de Genève, 7 p.m.

Shady Side Academy (4-5) vs. Sto-Rox (10-0) at Peters Township, 7 p.m.

Mohawk (5-5) at Chartiers-Houston (7-1), 7 p.m.

McGuffey (5-5) at Laurel (10-0), 7 p.m.

Neshannock (7-3) v Serra Catholic (10-1) at Norwin, 7 p.m.

Class A

First round

Friday program

OLSH (6-3) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic at Hempfield, 7 p.m.

Springdale (5-4) at West Greene (8-2), 7 p.m.

Mapletown (6-4) vs. Rochester (7-2), 7 p.m.

Monessen (4-6) vs. Cornell (7-2) at West Allegheny, 7 p.m.

California (7-2) at Leechburg (8-2), 7 p.m.

Burgettstown (5-4) vs. Bishop Canevin (9-1) at Canon-McMillan, 7 p.m.

Shenango (3-6) at Carmichaels (8-2), 7 p.m.

Quarter-finals

Friday November 12

OLSH / Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Clairton, 7 p.m.

Springdale / West Greene vs. Mapletown / Rochester

Monessen / Cornell v California / Leechburg

Burgettstown / Bishop Canevin vs. Shenango / Carmichaels

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Key words: , Central Valley, Clairton, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Steel Valley

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