Apollo-Ridge, Kiski Area, Fox Chapel learn playoff opponents at WPIAL football pairings meeting

Monday, October 28, 2019 | 8:30 PM

When the seedings of the WPIAL football playoffs were released Monday evening at the annual pairings meeting, three A-K Valley teams found out who they would be facing in the first round Friday night.

Of the three, Apollo-Ridge was the only team to receive a first-round home game. After going 7-3 overall and 4-2 in Allegheny Conference play, coach John Skiba and company received the No. 7 seed in Class 2A and will host tenth-seeded New Brighton (7-3, 5-2) on Friday at 7 p.m.

“We’re at home. That’s what I like. We’re not moving,” Skiba said. “People have to come and play on our field and that’s big for us. The kids haven’t had this experience and they are going to get that experience and I think that’s big for us moving forward.”

The Vikings are making their first playoff appearance since 2016 and will be hosting their first playoff game since 2014. Ater a season of ups and downs, the Vikings are looking to prove that they belong in the conversation.

“The kids are really excited about playing. They are wound tight,” Skiba said. “They are excited and it’s fun because there is a different air about them. They are getting ready and you see the community is getting ready, so that’s a big part.”

The Kiski Area Cavaliers (5-5, 4-3) were the next team up after finishing the season on a two-game winning streak. As the No. 10 seed in Class 5A, they’ll travel to seventh-seeded Bethel Park (6-3, 5-2) Friday to take on the Black Hawks.

“They are well coached and No. 3 (Sean McGowan), the running back, is unbelievable,” Kiski Area coach Sam Albert said about Bethel Park. “So we’ll have to play an almost perfect game, but I am just excited for the opportunity.”

The Cavaliers started their season with a big win over Allderdice, but couldn’t stitch together two wins in a row until the end of the season. They began to implement different types of offenses, leaning on running back Kenny Blake, who produced 1,123 of total offense and 11 touchdowns. Now, Albert believes his team is ready to show what it is capable of in the playoffs.

“I told our kids when you get to the playoffs there are two types of teams,” Albert said. “One is the teams that are just so happy that they are there and the other one is gonna go far because they aren’t happy that they are there. They aren’t content yet. I told them we have to have that attitude. So what if we made it? It’s what you do when you get there.”

The last A-K Valley team to find itself in the playoffs was Fox Chapel. The Foxes (4-6, 3-4) received the No. 16 seed in Class 5A and will take on top-seeded Penn Trafford (9-1, 6-0) in the first round. The Foxes played Penn-Trafford in the first round in their last two playoff appearances and both ended in losses.

Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran is looking forward to the challenge.

“We talk to our guys the same way every week, no matter who we are playing,” Loughran said. “We tell them this is our opportunity and we go into every week with the belief that we can win if we execute our plan offensively and defensively.”

Fox Chapel won three of its final four games, including Class 5A Northern Conference victories over Mars and Armstrong, before conceding its final regular season game to Shaler, 27-20. With a tough task ahead of them, the Foxes know they need to come ready to play on Friday.

“We talk about our opportunity and how we need to go out and take full advantage of it,” Loughran said. “We’re going to put together an offensive plan and a defensive plan and show up and play as hard as we can.”

All three games will take place on Friday at 7 p.m.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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