Mt. Pleasant pleased, not surprised to be in WPIAL football playoffs

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Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 9:12 PM


When Mt. Pleasant football coach Jason Fazekas left South Park on Friday, the Vikings’ loss to the Eagles didn’t sit well with him.

But when the WPIAL released the pairings for the 2020 tournament, Fazekas was pleased to see his Vikings get another chance to right the ship.

Mt. Pleasant (4-3) has lost two close WPIAL Class 3A Interstate Conference games, but the football committee decided its resume was good enough to earn a spot in the playoffs.

“There was a lot of discussion about Class 3A, but the committee felt Mt. Pleasant’s body of work was worth enough for a playoff bid,” WPIAL Executive Director Amy Scheuneman said. “I know some people will be disappointed and nothing is perfect.

“It was difficult to exclude some quality teams. We had to make some difficult decision.”

The Vikings, seeded seventh, will face Allegheny Seven champion North Catholic (7-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Mars. All WPIAL games this week are 7 p.m. Friday.

Mt. Pleasant and North Catholic were in the same conference the previous two seasons with the Trojans winning both times, including 42-28 in 2019.

“I was sort of, but not really surprised we made it,” Fazekas said. “I’m excited about having another week of practice, and we have another opportunity to play. At least it’s someone we’re familiar with.”

The other Westmoreland County teams to qualify — Jeannette in Class A, Belle Vernon in 4A and Penn-Trafford in 5A — get home games to begin the playoffs.

Jeannette (6-1), winners of six consecutive games, is seeded third and will face Tri-County South Conference runner-up Avella (5-2) at McKee Stadium.

This is Avella’s 10th time in the playoffs in its 96th season in the WPIAL. The Eagles have won or shared three WPIAL Class B titles, and are 1-7-1 overall in the postseason. They were awarded a WPIAL title in 1941. The others were a tie against Montour in 1957 and a 13-0 win against Washington Township (Kiski Area) in 1961.

Jeannette defeated Avella 54-0 in 2019 and 55-7 in 2018.

The Jayhawks have been in the WPIAL 98 seasons, qualifying for the playoffs 42 times and have won nine WPIAL and two PIAA titles.

“I’m sure they are a lot better this season,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “We’re happy to get a home game and if Springdale beats Rochester, maybe we’ll get a second (home game).

“We actually thought we’d be playing Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. We just have to go out and be ready for anything from them.”

Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert wasn’t surprised where his team was seeded. He obviously was happy to get a home game, and they’re playing a familiar opponent, Chartiers Valley, which it scrimmaged this season.

“A lot of people forget that we had a scrimmage against them,” Humbert said. “After losing to Thomas Jefferson, we’ve had three good weeks of practice. It really didn’t matter where we got seeded.”

The Leopards (5-1) are seeded No. 4 and are the same side of the bracket as No. 1 Aliquippa.

Penn-Trafford (5-1) also is seeded No. 4 and the Warriors will play host to familiar foe Upper St. Clair.

The Warriors defeated the Panthers, 31-7, in 2019 and 35-14 in 2017. Penn-Trafford is on the same side of the bracket at No. 1 Pine-Richland, a team the Warriors defeated 38-34 in a classic semifinal showdown in 2015.

“With that early loss, we weren’t too concerned on where we’d be seeded,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “You have to beat quality teams along the way, and there are a lot of quality teams in the tournament.”

The WPIAL also announced championship sites and dates.

Class 6A will be Nov. 6 at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.

Classes 5A, 4A and 3A will be at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium. Class 3A will be Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., and Class 5A (7 p.m.) and 4A (1 p.m.) on Saturday.

The Class 2A and A games are Nov. 14 at Martorelli Stadium. Class A is at 11 a.m. and Class 2A in a 5 p.m.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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