Staff Writer

Luke Campbell has been handling a multitude of tasks since joining the Observer-Reporter in 2015, following his graduation from Waynesburg University. He graduated from Waynesburg with a bachelor’s degree in sports broadcasting and information.

With all the other high school sports deep into the playoff brackets, it’s time for football teams to follow.

The 12 area teams that qualified for the WPIAL playoffs will learn their fates during Monday night’s pairings meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Green Tree. Festivities are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Class 6A is cut and dry, predetermined based on the final standings from the Quad County Conference, so here is what to look for in the other five classifications when the pairings are released tonight.

A top-3 seed for PT: Could Peters Township find itself as one of the top three seeds in Class 5A?

The Indians can make the case that they’ve definitely earned it.

Gateway will likely be the top seed. Penn Hills should be the No. 2.

Then, it’s anybody’s best guess for the next three seeds. Peters Township (6-1, 8-2) will be considered with Mars (6-1, 9-1) and Penn-Trafford (6-1, 8-2) for those spots.

Neither the Fightin’ Planets nor Warriors won their conference, which gives the edge to Peters Township. Mars’ only loss was to Penn Hills in Week 3.

Another advantage for the Indians, who are making back-to-back appearances in the WPIAL playoffs, is how they’ve fared against teams that also qualified for the postseason. In four games against Class 5A playoff teams, Peters Township is 3-1 with an average margin of victory of more than 25 points in those victories. It’s only loss of the year was in Week 1 against Upper St. Clair, 16-14.

SF, TJ and everybody else: There isn’t any debate as to who the top two seeds are in Class 4A.

Thomas Jefferson will be slotted into the top spot. South Fayette will follow as the second seed.

These two teams have been on a crash course for the WPIAL championship since early in the season, once we knew just how good Lions’ quarterback Jamie Diven was.

How much has Thomas Jefferson and South Fayette separated themselves from the pack in 4A? The Jaguars have won games in the classification by an average of 42 points. South Fayette is beating similar foes by 31 points.

The dissension in the ranks last year was why Belle Vernon was placed on the same side of the bracket as Thomas Jefferson. That shouldn’t happen this time. The Leopards should be seeded third and Blackhawk will likely be the fourth seed.

Quips still atop 3A: In the only classification where no local teams qualified, you’d have to think Aliquippa’s loss to Central Valley Friday won’t change the committee’s mind.

The Quips are deserving of the top seed, and the loss might have just helped them flip a switch for them to see they are beatable.

Aliquippa (6-1, 9-1) has shut out six opponents, given up fewer than five points per game and has scored more than 50 points seven times.

Local flavor in 2A: The majority of area playoff teams are in Class AA. Five teams – Burgettstown, Washington, Charleroi, McGuffey and Beth-Center – are in the 16-team field.

It’s a pretty deep, competitive field, too.

The two undefeated teams entering the postseason are Burgettstown and Shady Side Academy.

Shady Side Academy will get the top seed.

While on paper the Blue Devils should be a clear-cut second seed, are they going to get bumped from that No. 2 or 3 spot because of what many see as a weaker Three Rivers Conference?

The two non-conference wins for the Blue Devils are against a conference champion in Mohawk and winless Summit Academy. Talk about two ends of the spectrum.

The wild card in a classification where there are no wild cards is Steel Valley, which only lost to Shady Side and rolled to victories ever since. The Ironmen, who lost in last year’s championship to Washington, could be seeded anywhere from second to fifth.

As for Charleroi, Washington and McGuffey, the top three teams in the Interstate Conference, they could fill up the middle portion of the bracket. It will be interesting to see how much the committee values offense. The Prexies and Cougars averaged more than 50 points per game.

So what does the committee put more stock into, a powerful offense or a stingy defense?

Better lucky than good: Maybe the best decision made by the WPIAL was cutting the Class A playoffs from 16 teams to eight this offseason.

Teams with losing records don’t belong in the playoffs. Nobody, other than journalists on a strict deadline, want to see a running clock to begin the second half in a blowout. None of the eight first-round games played in Class A last year was one-possession finishes.

The coin toss between West Greene, Monessen and California will determine first, second and the wild card out of the Tri-County South Conference, but all will have difficult first-round matchups.

Just because one of the three wins the coin flip won’t guarantee that team a high seed. I could easily see the three of the final five seeds being from the TCS.

Jeannette is the clear-cut favorite for the top seed as the only undefeated team and having solid wins over Imani Christian, Our Lady of Sacred Heart, and Clairton. I’ll guess OLSH is No. 2, Clairton No. 3 and the coin-toss winner as the fourth seed.

The three Tri-County South Conference teams combined for an 0-4 record against non-conference competition that made the playoffs.

Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at lcampbell@observer-reporter.com.

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