Seeking 1st WPIAL playoff win, Southmoreland welcomes familiar foe in East Allegheny

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 | 6:53 PM

It took Southmoreland 40 years to make its second appearance in the WPIAL football playoffs.

That was two years ago when the Scotties qualified for the Class 2A postseason and met eventual champion Avonworth. The Scotties lost, 41-0.

The first appearance was against perennial power Penn Hills in 1979, and the Scotties were beaten, 31-0.

“My brother (Mark) and I were at the first playoff game,” Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer said. “We went with my parents, and the game was at Jeannette.”

The Scotties (7-3) didn’t have to wait another 40 years to qualify for the playoffs again. For the second time in three seasons, the Scotties are in the playoffs, and this time the game will be at Russ Grimm Field in Alverton. They take on former Keystone Conference foe East Allegheny at 7 p.m. Friday. It’s the first time Southmoreland will host a playoff game.

“It’s a big deal for the community, the school district and football team,” Keefer said. “Everyone is excited.”

This is East Allegheny’s 20th appearance in the WPIAL playoffs, and the Wildcats have a record of 5-18. Their last playoff win came in 2017 when they defeated Mohawk, 28-14. They were WPIAL champions in 1992, defeating Riverside, 33-13.

The Wildcats (4-5) are coached by former Southmoreland coach Dom Pecora, who was 7-12 during the 2011 and ’12 seasons with the Scotties. He was coaching the Scotties the last time the teams met, with East Allegheny winning 28-21 in 2011.

“They didn’t have those types of athletes there when I coached there,” Pecora said about Southmoreland. “It’s the best team I’ve seen or coached against.

“They are really good, and (Anthony) Govern is the best quarterback we’ll face this season. They are big up front. They play with a lot of enthusiasm.”

This is the 21st meeting between the schools; the series has been one-sided with the Wildcats holding an 18-1-1 advantage.

The first meeting was in 1972 with East Allegheny winning 17-14. The 6-6 tie came in 1979, and the Scotties’ lone win came in 2006, 37-26.

Southmoreland struggled a little in the regular-season finale, pulling away from South Park by scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter of a 28-14 win.

“It was a good comeback,” Keefer said. “The players took it upon their shoulders and really stepped it up, and we had a couple kids that I thought shined.”

Govern is having a superb season. He has completed 77 of 153 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has rushed for a team-high 655 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His top receivers are Isaac Trout (30 catches for 501 yards), J.J. Bloom (22 for 277, 4 TDs) and Josh Bass (14 for 225). Trout has scored nine total touchdowns.

While not complaining about the seed and pleased with having a home game, Keefer felt his team might have been seeded higher.

“We were 7-4 and won four of the last five, but that’s something we can’t control,” Keefer said. “I’ll take the home game; we’re all excited about that. It’s big, historical for Southmoreland.

“The program is pointed in the right direction. The seniors have been here all four years, so this is something special for them.”

Keefer said East Allegheny is a talented opponent and singled out quarterback Mike Smith and defensive end Robert Washington, whom he called a “stud.”

“(Smith is) dangerous, and he can make a lot of things happen out of nothing,” Keefer said. “(Washington) gets off the ball. He’s pretty dynamic. He gets after it. He has a motor.”

Pecora said his team is better than its record. The Wildcats lost to Steel Valley, Serra Catholic, North Catholic and Freeport, all playoff qualifiers.

“We haven’t been 100% all season,” Pecora said. “We’ve had injuries and issues on and off the field. We’re slowly getting everyone back.

“Some of the final scores weren’t indicative of how well we played. We were in every game that we lost. We also didn’t have our starting quarterback against Deer Lakes.”

Smith has completed 42 of 67 passes for 835 yards and 15 touchdowns. Smith also has rushed for 181 yards and five touchdowns.

The top receiver is Prashaun Gainer, who has 31 catches for 437 yards. Michael Cahill had 10 catches for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

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

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