5 things we learned in Week 10: McGuffey, West Greene celebrate 1st WPIAL playoff win in decades

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Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 8:52 PM


McGuffey waited 25 years for Friday night’s celebration. West Greene waited 26. New Brighton waited 18.

Cornell had waited forever.

Sometimes, a WPIAL playoff win arrives only once in a generation, a fact McGuffey junior Evan Wright and a few of his teammates understand well.

McGuffey’s wait ended when the Highlanders defeated South Side, 54-23, in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs. But before Friday, McGuffey hadn’t won a playoff game since 1994, and Wright’s father was a senior on that year’s roster.

“We’ve heard so much about the ’94 team that we want people in 10 or 15 years to be talking about the 2019 team,” said Wright, a starting lineman.

Wright’s younger brother, Tyler, is a freshman. And there are other connections to 1994, as well. Among them, junior Preston Fisher had an uncle on that team, and freshman Travis White’s father played then. Two of the team’s ballboys are sons from that 1994 roster.

In all, there are close to 10 players with relatives either on the team or in the school in 1994, coach Ed Dalton said.

McGuffey went on to win the WPIAL title in 1994, so current Highlanders are hoping that’s a good omen.

“At camp this summer, we were watching footage from that season,” said Wright, who has seen his father’s letterman’s jacket, jersey and WPIAL championship ring from back then. “It’s really cool being the 25th anniversary and us being this successful this year.”

West Greene has similar stories. The Pioneers defeated Greensburg Central Catholic, 36-0, on Friday for their first playoff win in 26 years.

The current roster has a number of players with connections to 1993, coach Brian Hanson said. Among them is star running back Ben Jackson, whose father was the defensive coordinator both this year and in 1993.

Others on the roster have relatives or close family friends from that team, Hanson said, so they have grown up hearing stories from when West Greene reached the WPIAL finals.

“That’s the only thing they’ve really heard about is that ’93 team,” Hanson said.

Cornell was 0-8 all-time in the WPIAL playoffs before defeating California, 32-27, in the Class A first round. This is a history-making season for the Raiders, who didn’t have a football team just a few years ago. The program went dormant in 2011 but was revived in ’16.

New Brighton edged Apollo-Ridge, 35-21, for its first since 2001.

2. Allegheny 8’s depth

The Allegheny 8 was considered the deepest WPIAL conference this season, and that showed in the first round of the playoffs. The Class 5A conference went 4-1 on Friday and came within one point of a perfect night.

The only Allegheny 8 team to lose was 11th-seeded Baldwin, which held a lead in the fourth quarter but lost 21-20 to No. 6 McKeesport. Moon, Peters Township, Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair advanced.

In Class 2A, the Midwestern Conference sent all four of its teams to the second round.

The conference that fared the worst was the Class 5A Northern, which saw five of its six playoff teams lose. Penn Hills was the only team to advance.

Also enduring bad nights were the Class 3A Big East, the Class 2A Allegheny and the Class 2A Three Rivers. All three went 1-3.

3. Unlucky No. 3?

The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in action all cruised to easy victories Friday, but some third-seeded teams found themselves in a battle. In fact, the No. 3 seeds in Class 3A and 2A lost.

Burgettstown lost in overtime to Riverside, 42-35, and North Catholic lost to South Park, 32-27.

Third-seeded Sto-Rox fought off Jeannette, 15-6, in one of the night’s best games.

4. Winning by 6 TDs

Blowouts aren’t reserved for the regular season.

There were nine first-round games decided by 41 points or more, including a 52-0 victory by South Fayette over West Mifflin. Class 4A proved to be the most lopsided classification with an average margin of 41.5 points.

However, the small schools (A, 2A, 3A) proved more competitive than the big schools (4A, 5A, 6A) on Friday. The average big-school margin of victory was 31.4 points. The small-school average was 18.3.

5. Home cooking

Home teams went 26-4 on Friday as they once again dominated the WPIAL first round. It was the second year in a row only four lower-seeded teams pulled off upsets.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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