Westmoreland County high school football notebook: Rematches loom for playoff teams

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 10:59 AM


Rematches always are something to look forward to in the WPIAL football postseason.

Westmoreland County teams could get their share of them in the coming weeks.

While coaches don’t like to look ahead — some bristle at the thought — they had to glance farther down the brackets to see who might be next.

Local teams could see familiar opponents in four of the six classifications.

In Class A, third-seeded Jeannette (6-1) could get an anticipated semifinal rematch with Rochester (6-1), the team that knocked it out of the playoffs two years ago, or a second clash with Springdale (5-2), which gave the Jayhawks a game in Week 5.

Jeannette lost to Rochester, 27-0, in 2018. The Jayhawks rallied to get past Springdale, 36-28, in an Eastern Conference game.

No. 2 seed Rochester hosts No. 7 Springdale on Friday night in another quarterfinal.

“I don’t think it’s about a chance at Rochester again but just moving onto the next round,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “And it would be nice if Springdale would win. That way we could have another home game.”

Higher-seeded teams get home games through the semifinals.

If No. 7 Mt. Pleasant (4-3) can get past No. 2 North Catholic (7-0) in Class 3A, the Vikings could wind up facing No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0) in the semifinals.

The Warriors have to beat Freeport (3-2) first.

Penn-Trafford (5A) and Belle Vernon (4A) also could meet rivals down the line.

Fans, media and even outsiders have wondered what would happen if Penn-Trafford (5-1) played Gateway (4-0). The teams’ appealing Big East Conference matchup was postponed and then canceled after both schools had run-ins with covid-19.

The teams would each need to win two games to reach the finals to finally face one another again. The championship is 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at North Allegheny.

Penn-Trafford is the No. 4 seed, and Gateway is No. 2.

“There are eight very good teams in 5A,” Penn-Trafford coach John Ruane said. “I just think everyone is happy they didn’t have to wait until Monday to prepare this year.”

Belle Vernon and Thomas Jefferson have quite a history, although TJ has tipped the scales despite the Leopards becoming a legit contender in recent years.

The teams met in the WPIAL final last year at Heinz Field, and if they meet again, it will have to be in the title game once more — Nov. 14 at North Allegheny.

No. 3 Belle Vernon (5-1) and No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (5-1) shared the Big Eight Conference title with McKeesport (5-1), which stunned TJ last week, 20-14.

“We honestly are not worried about who we play,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “But we are solely focused on CV and getting back where we left off last year.”

Belle Vernon has made the semifinals the past three years.

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Championship games

The WPIAL championship game times and sites are set.

North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium and North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium will host the six title games.

The schedule is as follows: Class 6A: 7 p.m. Nov. 6 (North Hills); 5A: 7 p.m. Nov. 14 (North Allegheny); 4A: 1 p.m. Nov. 14 (North Allegheny); 3A: 7 p.m. Nov. 13 (North Allegheny); 2A: 5 p.m. Nov. 14 (North Hills); A: 11 a.m. Nov. 14 (North Hills).

•••

Extra, extra

Thirteen Westmoreland teams did not make the WPIAL playoffs and most do not intend to play an extra game — or games.

The WPIAL said teams can play additional games up until Thanksgiving, given they do not exceed the 10-game limit.

Burrell is the only taker. It will host Ringgold at 7 p.m. Friday for its homecoming game on the new turf at Buccaneer Stadium in Lower Burrell.

The Bucs were supposed to play Derry, but the Trojans canceled their last two games because of covid-19 cases in the district.

•••

First year a success

Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel wanted to make the playoffs in his team’s first season back in the WPIAL since 1969. He will settle for a winning record.

The Rams finished 4-3, which landed them in third place in the Allegheny Conference with a bunch of teams that have played anywhere from zero to four games in a covid-branded season.

Despite all of the Rams’ success over the years with deep runs in the District 6 and PIAA playoffs, this was the first time in Beitel’s 17 years as head coach the team ended a season with a win.

“I am really happy with how we did this season,” Beitel said. “We had one senior (lineman Derek Fox), and he went from zero wins in fourth grade, sixth grade and eighth grade to four wins this year.

“And the Birdie predicted we’d win two games.”

The Rams’ losses were all to playoff teams that combined to lose one game: Apollo-Ridge (5-0), Western Beaver (6-1) and Serra Catholic (4-0).

Ligonier Valley led Western Beaver 3-0 through three quarters and lost, 14-3. It was tied 7-7 with Serra at the half before losing, 48-15. Serra onside kicked twice after the mercy rule went into effect, Beitel said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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