After Week 9 losses, P-T, FR, Jeannette focus on playoffs

Monday, October 30, 2017 | 9:27 PM

When the WPIAL playoffs begin Friday, three Westmoreland County teams — Penn-Trafford, Franklin Regional and Jeannette — will be trying to erase Week 9 losses from their memories.

But the start of the second season, the playoffs, comes with a different mentality. A loss means the end of the season.

Friday's setback didn't affect the seeding for Penn-Trafford, which was slotted No. 1 in Class 5A by the WPIAL football committee despite a 27-24 loss at McKeesport.

“It's a total body of work,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “McKeesport is a great team, obviously, and it lost a couple games in the final seconds or it would be 9-0.

“It goes to show you that everyone in Class 5A is very good, and it's really anybody's bracket. All eight teams have a great chance at winning it.”

Penn-Trafford (9-1) will host Fox Chapel (6-4) in the opening round. All games Friday begin at 7:30 p.m.

Ruane said getting his team focused shouldn't be hard because of the opponent.

“Fox Chapel is really good,” Ruane said. “We've watched film on them already. We had a decent guess that we'd get them or Woodland Hills.

“So we focused on them because we had already played Woodland Hills. And the players better be motivated, or the seniors will be done. We have to forget about last week and think about this week.”

Franklin Regional (6-3), seeded fifth, will face No. 4 Upper St. Clair (7-3). The game matches two veteran coaches in Franklin Regional's Greg Botta and Upper St. Clair's Jim Render.

“Greg has my number,” Render joked as the two talked after the meeting.

“Everyone likes to guess who they have, and we kind of thought we'd have them or West Allegheny,” Botta said. “Jim and I scrimmage every year for the past seven or eight years. But this year they took a game at Steubenville.

“We both feel it's going to be a good matchup: two similar teams that try to do the small things well.”

Botta said his team is just like the other teams that ended the regular season with a loss.

“This is a new season,” Botta said. “Everyone is 0-0. We were privileged enough and fortunate enough to be in the playoffs. Our motto is to make the playoffs and win the last game. We'll work as hard as we can to prepare for this team and play as hard as we can to win it.”

Jeannette coach Roy Hall said after Friday's disappointing 40-6 loss at Clairton that he would accept whatever seed the WPIAL gave them.

The Jayhawks (9-1), who will host No. 14 Monessen (3-7), were seeded third behind undefeated California (10-0) and Clairton (7-2). Imani Christian (8-2) was seeded No. 4, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was fifth. Rochester, which Jeannette defeated in the 2016 semifinals, was slotted sixth.

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said California deserved the top seed, especially with nonconference wins against Imani Christian and Rochester.

“The consensus of the committee was California No. 1,” O'Malley said. “Clairton's impressive win against Jeannette gave them No. 2.”

Hall said his players have to put the loss behind them and focus on an athletic Monessen team. Clairton and Jeannette could meet in the semifinals instead of the finals like they did in 2015 and '16.

“We have to get ready for a game Friday,” Hall said.

Belle Vernon (9-0) received a No. 2 seed behind South Fayette (10-0) in Class 4A. The Leopards host Mars (6-4). A win could set up a rematch against Big 9 rival Thomas Jefferson in the semifinals.

Despite finishing as tri-champions with Elizabeth Forward and South Park, Derry (9-1) received a seventh seed and will play at No. 2 Quaker Valley (9-1).

Norwin (5-5) received the No. 8 seed in Class 6A and will play at No. 1 Pine-Richland (10-0) on Friday.

South Fayette (Class 4A), Aliquippa (3A) and Steel Valley (2A) also earned top seeds.

The Class 3A-6A championship games are set for Nov. 18 at Heinz Field. The Class A-2A title games will be Nov. 25 at Robert Morris' Joe Walton Stadium.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at orvia Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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