5 things to watch for Week 7 of high school football: Class 2A features several contenders

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Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 8:57 PM


The WPIAL football committee might have trouble assembling the Class 5A playoff bracket and Class 4A could require work.

But Class 2A looks like the toughest task with three undefeated teams and nine others with one conference loss.

So the committee will have decisions to make.

Win out, and Shady Side Academy (6-0), McGuffey (7-0) and Burgettstown (6-0) could celebrate high seeds at the pairings meeting Oct. 29. But the long list of one-loss teams includes recent WPIAL 2A champions Washington and Steel Valley.

With the playoff field tightly bunched, a few key matchups this week will help shape the 16-team bracket:

• McGuffey (7-0, 5-0) visits Charleroi (5-1, 4-1) for first place in the Century Conference. McGuffey has a tough schedule ahead with Avonworth (6-1) in Week 8 and Washington (6-1) in Week 9.

Win all three and McGuffey could make an argument for the No. 1 seed.

• Burgettstown (6-0, 5-0), which is in first in the Three Rivers, hosts Midwestern leader Mohawk (6-1, 5-1) in a nonconference matchup that could earn the winner a top seed and some added respect for the winner’s conference. As the committee tries to measure the strength of one conference against another, crossover games like this one are key.

• Both East Allegheny (5-2, 2-1) and Avonworth (6-1, 3-1) will have their chance to knock off Allegheny Conference leader Shady Side Academy. The WPIAL’s top-ranked team faces East Allegheny in Week 8 and Avonworth in Week 9.

But first, EA and Avonworth will meet head to head Friday night, clearing a second-place logjam that also includes Steel Valley (5-1, 3-1).

2. Check map, pack lunch

Beaver Falls and Uniontown should leave early.

Both schools have long bus rides ahead of them Friday night. Beaver Falls must travel 166 miles round trip to face Waynesburg, and Uniontown will drive 149 to play North Catholic at Mars. Those are among the longest road trips in the WPIAL this season for a conference game.

Only 27 miles separate Uniontown and Waynesburg, but they don’t play one another this season.

3. Kick it out of bounds

Will South Park punt to MJ Devonshire?

The Aliquippa senior inched closer to a national record last week when he returned a punt for a touchdown against Yough, giving him seven for the season. Devonshire needs only two more to tie the National Federation of State High School Associations record set by Jack Kline of Brooklyn, Iowa, in 2013.

4. Controlling destiny

Canon-McMillan and Norwin could be playing the equivalent of a play-in game Friday night. Barring an upset, the winner seems destined to claim the sixth and final playoff spot in WPIAL Class 6A.

Norwin (2-3 in conference) is currently sixth with matchups against Mt. Lebanon (3-2) and Seneca Valley (4-2) remaining in Weeks 8 and 9.

Canon-McMillan (1-4) is seventh with games remaining against Central Catholic (3-2) and Butler (0-5).

5. Mismatch on paper

Gateway squeaked out a few wins last season, including four by a touchdown or less as it reached the PIAA Class 5A finals. This year, they’ve sweat very little.

They’re among three WPIAL teams outscoring opponents by at least 40 points per game. Aliquippa is best with a 50.9-point average margin of victory, followed by Gateway (42.7) and Thomas Jefferson (41.3).

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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