Bethel Park, Peters Township chase conference title in unpredictable Allegheny Eight

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Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 4:24 AM


In the span of four weeks, Peters Township lost by two points to Upper St. Clair, West Allegheny defeated USC by 17, and Peters Township defeated West A by 14.

Throw in Bethel Park’s one-point loss to West A and the result is essentially a four-way tie for first place in the unpredictable Allegheny Eight Conference.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s hard to figure these teams out,” Peters Township coach T.J. Plack said. “Every time I try to figure a team out, they win or have a close game. It’s pretty tough.”

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, West Allegheny (5-1 in conference) has a half-game lead over Bethel Park (4-1), Peters Township (4-1) and Upper St. Clair (4-1).

All four have clinched WPIAL playoff spots, but only the top two are guaranteed a home playoff game in the 16-team Class 5A bracket. That makes Friday night’s matchup between Peters Township (6-2 overall) and Bethel Park (5-2) all the more important.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Peters.

“We understand if we win the next two games, we have a pretty good shot for a share of the conference title and a decent seed,” said Plack, whose Indians face Baldwin in Week 9. “However, if we don’t do that, the best we can probably do is fourth place. The next two weeks for us are pretty big. We don’t want to stumble into the playoffs and (draw) one of the top seeds on the road.”

If West Allegheny, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair win out, that trio will finish in a three-way tie for the conference title. But Bethel Park, which faces USC in Week 9, has a very good chance to shake up the conference standings.

“This league is really hard because you have to be ready every week,” Bethel Park coach Jeff Metheny said. “There are a lot of really good coaches and a lot of good players. It’s what high school football is all about.”

Some other conference titles could be decided Friday, but the Allegheny Eight crown will wait. It’s the only WPIAL conference with four one-loss teams at the top entering Week 8.

With Baldwin, Moon and Chartiers Valley fighting for the fifth playoff spot or maybe a wild card, few conferences can match its depth.

“It is nice,” Plack said. “I’ve been in conferences before where you knew each and every week who was going to win, who was going to lose.”

Peters Township has won two games in a row including a 41-24 victory last week at Chartiers Valley. The Indians were led by sophomore quarterback Logan Pfeuffer, who completed 12 of 20 attempts for 172 yards and four touchdowns.

His touchdown throws went to four different receivers: Aidan McCall (30 yards), Josh Casilli (24), Corben Hondru (23) and Jackson McCloskey (35).

“He’s only a sophomore, but he understands the weapons that he has around him,” Plack said. “We have some guys who are able to make some plays if he can just get them the ball. … He’s gotten our offense going and made it more versatile. We have a run game, a screen game, a deep passing game, we’re more multifaceted.”

Junior running back Ryan Magiske rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown for Peters Township.

Bethel Park, which has a three-game winning streak, defeated Baldwin, 28-7, last week. Black Hawks senior Luke Surunis rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in the win while junior Jehvonn Lewis added another score.

Junior Sean McGowan also carries the ball. Combined, the trio has 1,500 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.

“We have multiple backs that can run the ball and we have a whole bunch of younger linemen,” Metheny said. “That’s what we’ve hung our hat on and that’s probably how we’ll go down swinging. If they can stop us, then they can probably win. If they can’t, then we’ll probably win.”

So far, though, those wins and losses weren’t easy to predict.

“We knew that going in about this conference,” Plack said, “that each and every week it was going to be competitive.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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