Choosing Washington or Avonworth for No. 1 seed among WPIAL’s toughest bracket picks

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Monday, October 28, 2019 | 11:48 PM


Choosing the No. 1 seeds was maybe easier than usual for the WPIAL football committee with one exception: Class 2A.

There, the committee had three undefeated teams to pick from.

Avonworth (10-0) played the strongest schedule with wins over six playoff teams. Burgettstown (9-0) had the stingiest defense, allowing only 7.8 points per game. Washington (10-0) was the most dominant offensively, outscoring every opponent by at least 22 points.

The committee chose Washington, a seven-time WPIAL champion.

“I’m a historian only in football, and Wash High has been there, done that,” said Randy Rovesti, chairman of the WPIAL football committee. “I think they deserve the one but there was discussion.”

In the eyes of the committee, history matters. The committee recognized that Washington has had more postseason success than Avonworth, which hasn’t won a WPIAL title since 1959, or Burgettstown, which last reached the finals in 1944.

Washington won a title just two years ago.

And to a lesser degree, the committee also factored in that one of Avonworth’s top players, Kyros Thorpe, is ineligible for the playoffs under PIAA transfer rules, Rovesti said.

“After limited debate, they thought Wash High was the No. 1 seed,” WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said. “But one vs. two, the only difference is the (home or away) jersey you get to wear at the end of the tournament.”

Avonworth was seeded second and Burgettstown third.

The WPIAL revealed brackets for all six classifications Monday night during the annual playoff pairings meeting at the DoubleTree in Green Tree.

The playoffs start Friday. The Class 6A, 4A, 3A and A championships are Nov. 16 at Heinz Field. The Class 5A and 2A finals are Nov. 23 at Norwin.

As expected, the other No. 1 seeds went to Central Catholic in Class 6A, Penn-Trafford in 5A, Thomas Jefferson in 4A, Central Valley in 3A and Clairton in A. There was less debate this year about the No. 1s, but the committee wrestled with some other decisions.

Among them, what to do with Jeannette in Class A? The Jayhawks (9-1) might be the second-best team in the field, O’Malley said, but they aren’t one of the four teams that qualified for a home game.

That meant they had to be seeded fifth or lower in the eight-team bracket. The committee seeded Jeannette sixth, creating a first-round matchup with third-seeded Sto-Rox (9-1), a co-champion from the Big Seven.

In Class 4A, the WPIAL paired No. 1 Thomas Jefferson against No. 8 Montour, and No. 2 South Fayette against No. 7 West Mifflin. The committee considered flipping Montour and West Mifflin, but that would have created conference rematches from last week.

Thomas Jefferson defeated West Mifflin, 53-0 in Week 9. South Fayette defeated Montour, 31-24, in Week 9.

“Had the West Mifflin-TJ game and South Fayette-Montour game been played earlier, you may have seen a different decision,” O’Malley said.

In Class 5A, the committee gave Penn-Trafford and Gateway the top two seeds despite being rivals from the same conference. Penn Hills, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion, was seeded third.

That left Allegheny Eight co-champions Moon and Peters Township with the fourth and fifth seeds, setting up a possible rematch in the second round. Moon won 21-13 in Week 6.

“There’s nothing you can do about it now,” Moon coach Ryan Linn said, “but it’s really going to be a (heck) of a game in Round 2 if we both get there.”

Like last year, Class 5A and 2A were again the toughest to seed because they have 16-team brackets. Class 4A, 3A and A use eight-team brackets. Class 6A has just six teams.

If playoff history influenced the committee’s decision-making in Class 2A, Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said he’s fine with that.

“They had tough decisions to make and I don’t think they made incorrect decisions,” Johncour said. “Washington has history and they’ve been in the championship within the last three years. I think they got the respect in that regard, which is great. Good for them. We’re happy to be where we are.”

Avonworth’s seed is its highest since earning the Class A No. 2 in 2008.

This was the first time Washington received a No. 1 seed since 2001. The Prexies won the WPIAL title that year.

“I thought we had a chance at it,” Washington coach Mike Bosnic said. “You never know until you come down here and actually read it.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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