5 things to watch in Week 6: Some WPIAL conferences may crown no champion

Friday, October 16, 2020 | 5:00 AM

Some WPIAL football conferences may have no champion this season.

The WPIAL announced this week that no conference champion would be recognized if canceled games could have changed the outcome. In the Class 2A Allegheny for example, Apollo-Ridge and Serra Catholic are both undefeated but their head-to-head matchup was canceled this week over covid-19 concerns.

Serra Catholic also missed a Week 1 conference game against Steel Valley, meaning Apollo-Ridge would finish a half-game ahead of the Eagles with a win next week. But according to the WPIAL’s new policy, neither would receive a conference champion plaque.

“(Conference) winners will only be named if a team completes enough of their (conference) schedule to determine with certainty that no other team had the ability to match or surpass their record,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

The policy also may affect the Class 5A Big East, where Gateway and Penn-Trafford are both undefeated, but their head-to-head matchup was canceled in Week 5.

If the two teams win out, Penn-Trafford would finish a half-game ahead of Gateway in the standings because the Gators also canceled a conference game against Latrobe in Week 4.

But neither would be the champion.

Class 6A might not have a conference champion either. North Allegheny (4-0, 3-0) holds a winning percentage edge over Seneca Valley (3-1, 3-1) but their Week 1 game was canceled. North Allegheny also is missing a conference game against Baldwin.

The WPIAL will determine a conference champion in instances where a head-to-head tiebreaker makes the winner obvious, Scheuneman said.

Should Clairton win out in the Class A Eastern, the Bears could be the champion even though they missed a game against Bishop Canevin. In that scenario, Clairton would be undefeated and own head-to-head tiebreakers over all teams that could tie for first.

The new policy applies to all fall team sports.

Strong finish for Shenango?

Undefeated Shenango is enjoying its best start in 17 years, but the Wildcats saved the best for last on their schedule.

This week and next, they face the two teams chasing them in the Class A Big Seven standings. Our Lady of Sacred Heart (4-1, 4-1) visits Shenango (5-0, 5-0) at 7 p.m. Friday. In Week 7, Shenango travels to Rochester (4-1, 4-1) for the regular-season finale.

This has been a resurgent year for Shenango, which hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2016. Just two years ago, the Wildcats went 1-9 overall and 0-7 in conference while competing in Class 2A.

Shenango last started 5-0 in 2003. That year, the team finished the regular season 9-0.

High school reunion

Pine-Richland and North Hills haven’t played one another in five years, but the two teams’ coaches likely see each other often.

Eric Kasperowicz and Pat Carey are both physical education teachers at their alma mater, North Hills. Kasperowicz graduated from North Hills in 1994, Carey in 1988. Each became a head coach in 2013.

Their teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Pine-Richland.

With Kasperowicz as coach, Pine-Richland is 2-1 against North Hills. The Rams won 32-15 in 2014 and 47-7 in 2015.

North Hills won 7-0 in 2013.

Shaking off the rust

Gateway essentially took a month off.

The Gators haven’t played a football game in 27 days because of covid-19 shutdowns, an unbelievably long layoff that should end Saturday for the defending WPIAL Class 5A champion.

Gateway (2-0, 1-0) visits Woodland Hills (4-1, 2-1) at 7 p.m.

The team last played a game Sept. 18. They shut down activities for two weeks after a player tested positive for coronavirus, canceling games against Pine-Richland and Latrobe.

The Gators scheduled a game last Sunday against Penn-Trafford, but that contest was canceled when Penn-Trafford was forced to temporarily halt its team activities.

Big-school problems

Covid-19 cases caused four more WPIAL football games to be canceled this week including the Class 6A matchup between Hempfield and Central Catholic.

The coronavirus shutdowns have hit the WPIAL’s largest classification hardest this fall. There are eight teams in Class 6A and seven of them have had at least one game canceled.

Norwin is the only team with an uninterrupted football schedule. However, the district did close five school buildings this month because of coronavirus cases, but Norwin administrators decided it was safe for sports to continue.

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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