A-K Valley high school football notebook: Apollo-Ridge could be at mercy of playoff selection committee

Saturday, October 17, 2020 | 5:08 PM

The WPIAL on Wednesday laid out a plan to fill playoff brackets for the six football classifications as covid-19 has canceled games and created unprecedented issues for the organization.

Apollo-Ridge had a keen interest in what the WPIAL had to say. The WPIAL’s plan for Class 2A has only the conference champion and four wild cards qualify for the eight-team field.

The Class 2A formula was changed, the WPIAL said, because its four conferences have an uneven number of teams. The largest has eight and the smallest five.

The Vikings, 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the five-team Allegheny Conference, have had two games nixed, including this past Friday against Serra Catholic (4-0, 2-0) because the Eagles suspended football activities over a positive covid-19 test.

A game result among the league leaders most likely would have determined the conference champion. The WPIAL announced this week no conference champion would be recognized if canceled games could have changed the outcome.

Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said there are plans to make contact with the WPIAL on Monday to gain more clarity regarding that position.

“When I heard they were talking about not crowning a champion from our conference, that was kind of frustrating,” Skiba said. “Even if it’s co-champions, or whatever, I think the conference deserves to have a champion. The kids and coaches have worked hard for that designation.”

Every team in the other three Class 2A conferences has played its full allotment of six games in the regular season.

If it comes down to Apollo-Ridge being at the mercy of a playoff selection committee, Skiba feels his team has built a worthy resume.

“I tell the kids we just have to keep playing and control what we can control,” he said. “We played two Triple-A teams and beat them both soundly, and we’ve won all of our games by big margins. We’ve shown we are a pretty good team. I would hope they would look at that and feel we are deserving.”

Mustangs take the title

Plum’s 35-7 victory over Knoch on Friday clinched the Greater Allegheny Conference title and a WPIAL Class 4A playoff berth.

Ryan Hubner threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Reed Martin took a punt back for a score, and Eryck Moore scored his team-leading eighth rushing touchdown.

The top two teams in each Class 4A conference qualify.

The Mustangs also improved to 6-0 overall for the first time since 1976. That team finished the regular season 10-0, captured the Keystone Conference title and defeated Highlands in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs before losing to Butler in the semifinals.

The 1976 squad posted three shutouts and didn’t allow more than one touchdown in any of its 12 games.

Back in a big way

Freeport didn’t skip a beat Friday as it returned to game action after covid-19 issues forced the team to cancel two games.

The Yellowjackets (3-1, 3-0 in Allegheny Seven) got contributions in all three phases to complete a 38-18 victory over conference rival Burrell.

Freeport stayed alive in the discussion for a Class 3A playoff spot as sophomore Ben Lane threw two touchdown passes — one to junior Vinnie Clark and the other to senior Mario DeVivo — ran for a TD, and returned a punt for a score. Clark added a 15-yard interception return and a 37-yard field goal.

Freeport now has the final regular-season chance to knock off Triblive HSSN Class 3A No. 1 North Catholic (6-0, 5-0). The Yellowjackets will face the Trojans on Friday at the Mars Athletic Complex.

North Catholic averages 48.5 points and has given up just 7.2.

Race to the finish

The Greater Allegheny Conference, along with the three Class 2A conferences and the Class A Big Seven, are the only ones in the WPIAL with no games canceled this season.

Plum is the Greater Allegheny champion, and Mars (5-1) wrapped up second place with its 42-21 win Friday over Greensburg Salem. Hampton, 2-8 last year, has rallied to a 4-2 record heading into its conference finale against Knoch.

But the Talbots’ victory knocked Highlands from the playoffs despite the Golden Lions’ wild rally for a 34-27 victory over Armstrong. Highlands trailed 27-6 midway through the third quarter.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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