With one week remaining, 56 of the 62 WPIAL football playoff spots have already been determined, though the final order of finish in the 15 conferences, three wild cards and three bonus first-round home games will depend on what happens this weekend. Only six playoff spots are still available with no more than three teams challenging for any of them.
All six classes use head-to-head results, the modified Gardner Point system and the WPIAL Tiebreaker system (+/-). A coin-flip will be used if those preliminary steps didn’t break a tie, though it does not appear one will be needed this season.
The formats of the six playoff fields remains the same in this, the second year of the enrollment cycle. Class 6A has six teams. The WPIAL’s largest classes in terms of the number of teams, 5A & 2A, have 16-team playoff fields, though their makeup is different. The three remaining classes, 4A, 3A and 1A, each have 8-team brackets, but not constituted the same way. Class 5A has races for one wild card and two third-place teams who will host in the opening round. Class 1A has races for two wild cards and one second-place finisher who gets to play the first round on home turf.
To determine the final standings within conferences, using all league games, compare head-to-head results, then the Gardner system (100 points for wins +10 points for every win a beaten team finishes with) and the WPIAL Tiebreaker (score differential up to +10/-10 points). When a team is eliminated from the tie, start the process again with the remaining teams. In calculations for Wild Cards and the extra home games, Big East (5A) includes one game against the Northern Conference with the Eastern Conference (1A) counts one game against the Tri-County South.
Following are the conferences, games that can impact final standings (conference records, WPIAL TB points, if they matter) and a look at the possibilities heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
Class 6A qualifies six of its nine teams. The top two teams earn first-round byes and will host the WPIAL semifinals Nov. 8. The third- and fourth-place finishers will host quarterfinal games Nov. 1.
Quad County Conference – North Allegheny (7-0, +61) at Pine-Richland (6-1, +50), Central Catholic (6-1, +52) at Mt. Lebanon (5-2, +26). Seneca Valley (3-4) is fifth, Canon-McMillan (2-5) sixth.
If North Allegheny wins, Tigers are first, Central Catholic second, Pine-Richland third, Mt. Lebanon fourth. If Pine-Richlands and Central Catholic win, tiebreaker points will decide first with head-to-head results setting second and third. Mt. Lebanon would be fourth. The Blue Devils can finish third with a win and a Pine-Richland win.
Class 5A qualifies the top five teams in each of the threeconferences plus one sixth-place wild-card team. The top two finishers in each conference host in the opening round along with two of the three third-place finishers.
Allegheny Eight – Peters Township (5-1, +40) at Baldwin (4-2, +3), Moon Area (5-1, +41) at West Allegheny (2-4, -27), Bethel Park (4-2, +24) at Upper St. Clair (4-2, +8).
All but West Allegheny have clinched spots and the Indians will be in the Wild Card discussion. In most combinations, Moon is first with a win or with a Peters Township loss. Peters is first with a win and a Moon loss. Bethel Park and Baldwin can finish as high as second.
Big East – Penn-Trafford (5-0) at Franklin Regional (3-2), Gateway (4-1) at McKeesport (4-1).
Penn-Trafford is first. Gateway-McKeesport winner is second, loser third. Franklin Regional is fourth, Latrobe (2-4) fifth. Plum is sixth but cannot win the Wild Card and is eliminated.
Northern – North Hills (5-1) at Penn Hills (6-0), Mars (3-3, +15) at Hampton (2-4, -14), Shaler (2-4, -10) at Fox Chapel (3-3, -12), Armstrong (0-6) at Kiski (3-3, -7).
North Hills-Penn Hills winner is first, loser second. Mars and Kiski have clinched spots with Fox Chapel, Hampton and Shaler battling for the final automatic berth and Wild Card consideration. There are 16 different combinations of games resulting in eight different orders of finish in this conference.
Wild Card – West Allegheny must beat Moon to remain in the discussion. Otherwise, Fox Chapel, Hampton or Mars will be the Wild Card.
Third-Place Hosting Rights – The Allegheny Eight and Big East third-place teams will host first-round playoff games.
Class 4A qualifies the top four teams in each of the two conferences with the top two in each league hosting in the opening round.
Big Eight – West Mifflin (4-2) at Thomas Jefferson (6-0), Indiana (1-5) at Greensburg Salem (4-2), Ringgold (0-6) at Belle Vernon (5-1).
Thomas Jefferson is first, Belle Vernon is second. Greensburg Salem is third with a win or with a Thomas Jefferson win. West Mifflin is third with a win plus an Indiana win.
Northwest Eight – Montour (4-2) at South Fayette (6-0), Blackhawk (4-2) at Beaver (1-5), Ambridge (0-6) at New Castle (3-3). Knoch (4-3) has a non-conference game at Freeport.
South Fayette is first. Blackhawk and Montour have clinched berths. New Castle is out, Knoch is knocked out if New Castle wins. Knoch is in, New Castle is out if winless Ambridge beats New Castle.
Class 3A qualifies the top four teams in each of the two conferences with the top two in each league hosting in the opening round.
Big East – Deer Lakes (3-4) at North Catholic (7-0), Derry (6-1) at Burrell (4-3), Elizabeth-Forward (5-2) at Yough (1-6), Mount Pleasant (3-4) at Uniontown (0-7)
North Catholic is first, Derry second, Elizabeth-Forward third. Burrell is fourth with a win, or with a Uniontown win. Deer Lakes is fourth with a win plus Mount Pleasant and Derry wins. Mount Pleasant is fourth with a win plus North Catholic and Derry wins.
Tri-County West – Central Valley (6-0) at Aliquippa (6-0). Beaver Falls (4-2) at Hopewell (2-4), Quaker Valley (1-5) at South Park (3-3).
Central Valley-Aliquippa winner is first, the loser second. Beaver Falls is third, South Park fourth.
Class 2A qualifies the top four teams in each of the four conferences with the top two in each league hosting in the opening round.
Allegheny – Avonworth (5-0) at Shady Side Academy (3-2), East Allegheny (3-2) at Valley (0-5).
Avonworth is first, Apollo-Ridge second. East Allegheny has clinched and is third with a win or Avonworth win. Shady Side Academy has clinched and is third with a win plus a Valley win.
Century – Washington (6-0) at McGuffey (6-0). Charleroi (non-conference at Apollo-Ridge) and Southmoreland (non-conference at Greensburg Central Catholic) have clinched.
Washington-McGuffey winner is first, the loser second. Charleroi is third, Southmoreland fourth.
Midwestern – Neshannock (5-1) at Shenango (3-3, +2), Riverside (4-2) at New Brighton (4-2, +24). Freedom (5-1) at Western Beaver (3-3, -6) Saturday.
Freedom, Neshannock and Riverside have clinched. Freedom and Neshannock claim home games with six of the eight combinations of weekend results. New Brighton clinches in seven of those combinations. Western Beaver is fourth only with a win plus Neshannock and Riverside wins.
Three Rivers – Burgettstown (6-0) at South Allegheny (3-3), Serra Catholic (3-3) at Fort Cherry (0-6). Brentwood (Ellwood City) and South Side Beaver (Steel Valley) host non-conference games Friday.
Burgettstown is first, Brentwood second, South Side Beaver third. Serra Catholic is fourth with a win or with a Burgettstown win. South Allegheny is fourth with a win plus a Fort Cherry win.
Class A qualifies the top two teams in each of the three conferences plus two third-place wild-card teams. The top team in each conference hosts in the opening round along with one of the second-place finishers.
Big Seven – Cornell (5-1, +47) at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (5-1, +38). Sto-Rox (6-1) hosts Imani Christian in a non-conference game.
Sto-Rox is first. The Cornell-OLSH winner is second, loser third and one of the two Wild Cards.
Eastern – Jeannette (5-0, +60) at Clairton (5-0, +57). Greensburg Central Catholic (4-2, +24) hosts Southmoreland in a non-conference game.
The Jeannette-Clairton winner is first, loser second. Greensburg Central Catholic is third and one of the two Wild Cards.
Tri-County South – California (5-1, +40) at Mapetown. West Greene (7-0) plays non-conference game at Union. Chartiers-Houston (5-2, +22) hosts Riverview in a non-conference game.
West Greene is first, California second. Chartiers-Houston is third but loses the Wild Card comparisons with all of the other possible teams.
Wild Card – Cornell-OLSH loser is one Wild Card, Greensburg Central Catholic is the other. Both have more WPIAL tiebreaker points than Chartiers-Houston.
Second-Place Hosting Rights – A home game will go to one of the second-place finishers, the Cornell-OLSH winner, the Jeannette-Clairton loser or California. Clairton would have more Gardner Points if the Bears lose to Jeannette, thanks to the win over West Greene. If Jeannette beats Clairton, the bonus home game would likely be decided by WPIAL Tiebreaker points. Entering the weekend, Cornell is +47, OLSH +38, Jeannette +60, Clairton +57 and California +40.