WPIAL bracketology: Chris Harlan, Don Rebel predict 2020 football pairings

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Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 6:35 PM


In the words of Upper St. Clair basketball coach Danny Holzer: “It’s never too early for bracketology.”

One week remains in this very unique season and many teams won’t know for certain they’re a playoff participant until the brackets are released Saturday night on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

The members of the WPIAL football steering committee have been clothed in immense power this fall. They will gather to determine the eight teams making the playoffs in Class 5A to A and the four teams in 6A before seeding the brackets and releasing their work.

While there is great uncertainty, that doesn’t prevent us from giving our two-cents worth a week early.

A lot could change in Week 7, but barring any eyebrow raisers next weekend, here is what we think could happen when the brackets are unveiled exclusively here on HSSN at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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Class 6A

Key Week 7 game

Mt. Lebanon at Seneca Valley on Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

4-Seneca Valley at 1-North Allegheny

3-Central Catholic at 2-Mt. Lebanon

Rebel: Mt. Lebanon at Seneca Valley in Week 7 is a huge game in determining the playoff field and the seeding. The matchups listed above would be if Mt. Lebanon wins. It Seneca Valley wins, Mt. Lebanon could still be No. 2 or fall all the way out, if Canon-McMillan beats Norwin.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

4-Seneca Valley at 1-North Allegheny

3-Central Catholic at 2-Mt. Lebanon

Harlan: Seneca Valley has only one conference loss — 33-7 to Central Catholic — but the Raiders missed their Week 1 matchup with North Allegheny because of coronavirus. The two teams could play here in the first round.

Class 5A

Key Week 7 game

Upper St. Clair at South Fayette on Friday, 7 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

8-Upper St. Clair/South Fayette loser at 1-Pine-Richland

5-Upper St. Clair/South Fayette winner at 4-Penn-Trafford

7-Penn Hills at 2-Gateway

6-Woodland Hills at 3-Peters Township

Rebel: No matter how this bracket ends up, Class 5A is deep and talented, but also a bit unknown because several key games weren’t played. Gateway’s win over Woodland Hills on Saturday was impressive after a three-week layoff. Penn-Trafford’s loss to Peters Township knocks them out of the top three.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

8-Woodland Hills at 1-Pine-Richland

5-Upper St. Clair/South Fayette winner at 4-Penn-Trafford

6-Upper St. Clair/South Fayette loser at 3-Gateway

7-Penn Hills at 2-Peters Township

Harlan: Upper St. Clair visits South Fayette in Week 7. The winner is second in the Allegheny 6. The loser is third. Both should make the playoffs. The Allegheny 6 is the deepest Class 5A conference, so it’s rewarded here. Peters Township draws the second seed over Gateway, which missed three games.

Class 4A

Key Week 7 game

McKeesport at Thomas Jefferson on Friday, 7 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

8-Montour at 1-Thomas Jefferson

5-Chartiers Valley at 4-Plum

7-McKeesport at 2-Aliquippa

6-Mars at 3-Belle Vernon

Rebel: The McKeesport at Thomas Jefferson matchup in Week 7 is big toward the above scenario. Big Eight runner-up Belle Vernon gets the nod at No. 3 over Greater Allegheny champ Plum. This Big Eight is deeper than the GAC, plus it sets up a clash between two teams enjoying breakout seasons: Plum and Chartiers Valley.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

8-Montour at 1-Thomas Jefferson

5-Belle Vernon at 4-Chartiers Valley

7-Mars at 2-Aliquippa

6-McKeesport at 3-Plum

Harlan: Chartiers Valley and Belle Vernon could switch spots, depending upon who the committee thinks deserves a home game. Both have one lopsided loss. CV lost 35-6 to Aliquippa. BV lost 42-21 to Thomas Jefferson. A nonconference victory over South Fayette boosts Chartiers Valley’s resume.

Class 3A

Key Week 7 games

Mt. Pleasant at South Park on Friday, 7 p.m.

Avonworth at Central Valley on Friday, 7 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

8-Freeport at 1-Central Valley

5-Mt. Pleasant/South Park at 4-Keystone Oaks/Avonworth

7-Keystone Oaks/Avonworth at 2-North Catholic

6-East Allegheny at 3-Elizabeth Forward

Rebel: Not as much depth in this class compared to some of the others. Hard to not take both Freeport and East Allegheny after their game for second place in the Allegheny 7 was canceled by coronavirus. Other teams still in mix include Southmoreland and Hopewell.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

8-Freeport at 1-Central Valley

5-Mt. Pleasant at 4-Keystone Oaks

7-Avonworth at 2-North Catholic

6-East Allegheny at 3-Elizabeth Forward

Harlan: Keystone Oaks defeated Avonworth, 20-13 in Week 4, so the Eagles deserve the higher seed of the two. That changes if Avonworth were to upset Central Valley in Week 7. If South Park defeats Mt. Pleasant in Week 7, then the bottom four seeds might change.

Class 2A

Key Week 7 games

Frazier at Washington on Friday, 7 p.m.

Neshannock at Beaver Falls on Friday, 7 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

8-Western Beaver at 1-Beaver Falls

5-Serra Catholic at 4-Apollo-Ridge

7-Washington at 2-Sto-Rox

6-Laurel at 3-McGuffey

Rebel: Even though the committee doesn’t have to take the top two teams in each conference, it works in this scenario, although New Brighton would be a strong candidate to earn a spot from a third-place finish. Neshannock is back in the discussion if it upsets Beaver Falls. Since the much-anticipated Serra Catholic vs. Apollo-Ridge battle for the Allegheny Conference was postponed, have them play in the quarterfinals.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

8-Western Beaver at 1-Beaver Falls

5- Apollo-Ridge at 4-Washington

7-Laurel at 2-McGuffey

6-Serra Catholic at 3-Sto-Rox

Harlan: Frazier could revamp the bracket and play its way into the tournament with an upset win Friday over Washington. For now, the two teams are tied for second in the Century Conference. Sto-Rox’s only loss this season was a Week 1 forfeit. Apollo-Ridge can also make a strong argument for a home game.

Class A

Key Week 7 games

Springdale at Clairton on Friday, 7 p.m.

Shenango at Rochester on Friday, 7 p.m.

Don Rebel’s bracket

8-Carmichaels at 1-Clairton

5-Rochester at 4-California

7-Springdale at 2-Shenango

6-Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 3-Jeannette

Rebel: Rochester could shake things up with a win in Week 7 over Shenango. Same with Springdale, if the Dynamos stun Clairton.

Chris Harlan’s bracket

8-Carmichaels at 1-Clairton

5-Rochester at 4-Jeannette

7-Springdale at 2-Shenango

6-Our Lady of the Sacred Heart at 3-California

Harlan: Springdale probably deserves better than a No. 7 seed, but that’s where the Dynamos land if the committee wants to avoid first-round rematches. Springdale challenged Jeannette in Week 5 before losing 36-28.

More High School Football

Pine-Richland routs Cathedral Prep to claim PIAA Class 5A title
High school sports scores, summaries, schedules for Nov. 27, 2020
Central Valley caps undefeated season with PIAA Class 3A championship
2 interception returns lift Steelton-Highspire past Jeannette in PIAA Class A football final
5 things to watch at the PIAA football championships

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