5 things to watch in Week 3: WPIAL No. 1 vs. No. 2 in largest classifications

Friday, September 25, 2020 | 9:00 AM

It’s one vs. two, twice.

The WPIAL has a pair of top-ranked matchups on the Week 3 football schedule with No. 2 Gateway visiting No. 1 Pine-Richland in Class 5A and No. 2 North Allegheny facing No. 1 Central Catholic in 6A.

Both start at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Class 5A matchup is nonconference, but it’s a powerful test for both Gateway and Pine-Richland, a newcomer in the classification.

Gateway (2-0) with senior running back/safety Derrick Davis is the reigning champions in WPIAL Class 5A. Combined, the Gators outscored their first two opponents 96-21, but they started this season second in the TribLive HSSN rankings behind Pine-Richland (2-0), last year’s WPIAL runner-up in Class 6A.

The Rams’ enrollment allowed them to drop to 5A in the latest realignment. Transitioning to an unfamiliar classification hasn’t proven difficult so far. They outscored their first two opponents 87-21.

Friday’s outcome won’t affect either team’s playoff chances, but it could determine the No. 1 overall seed in about a month.

The Class 6A matchup is a conference game, so it will impact playoff qualifying for North Allegheny (1-0, 0-0) and Central Catholic (2-0, 2-0). Combined, the two teams won seven WPIAL titles in the past 10 seasons.

Central Catholic is the defending WPIAL Class 6A champion, but the Vikings lost to North Allegheny, 11-10, in last year’s regular season.

City League kicks off

City League football season starts Friday, which could be considered a victory for all six teams. Opening day arrives seven weeks after Pittsburgh Public Schools administrators initially decided to postpone fall sports. The school board later reversed that decision, clearing the way for kickoff.

The City League openers match Brashear and Westinghouse at 3:30 p.m. at Cupples Stadium followed by Allderdice and University Prep at 7 p.m. Carrick and Perry play at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Delay of game by Shady Side

Shady Side Academy took a different approach to football season than any other team in the WPIAL. School administrators decided the team should skip its scrimmage and the first two weeks of the season — all nonconference games — as a precaution to prevent possible coronavirus exposure.

Now in Week 3, the team’s season officially starts.

Shady Side opens its five-game schedule at Sto-Rox with a nonconference game at 7 p.m. Friday. After this week, the team finishes its schedule with four Allegheny Conference matchups.

Big Eight rivals rematch

Few teams have met as often in recent years than Thomas Jefferson (2-0, 2-0) and Belle Vernon (2-0, 2-0). The Big Eight Conference rivals will share the field for the sixth time in four seasons Friday.

Their most recent matchup came in the WPIAL Class 4A finals last November at Heinz Field. Thomas Jefferson won 41-7. The Jaguars have won four consecutive in the series since Belle Vernon won 21-17 in the 2017 regular season.

But Belle Vernon might have reason for optimism. The Leopards have the only WPIAL defense this season that’s played two games and hasn’t allowed a point. They outscored McKeesport, 20-0, and West Mifflin, 45-0.

Thomas Jefferson is coming off a 51-14 win at Trinity.

Better late than never

Peters Township (1-0, 0-0) and South Fayette (1-1, 0-0) were scheduled to meet in Week 1, a marquee opening-week matchup in the Allegheny 6. But covid-19 cases led Peters Township to close its school building for a short time, causing the home football game to be postponed until now.

Peters Township is coming off 24-21 victory over Penn-Trafford. South Fayette was stunned 9-7 by Chartiers Valley.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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