WPIAL playoff breakdown: Class 6A

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Thursday, November 7, 2019 | 4:20 PM


Class 6A semifinals

No. 4 Mt. Lebanon (7-4) at No. 1 Central Catholic (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Fox Chapel Stadium

On the air: TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner gets: North Allegheny vs. Pine-Richland winner in the WPIAL Class 6A championship game at 8 p.m. Nov. 16

Last week: Mt. Lebanon 35, Seneca Valley 14; Central Catholic bye

Coaches: Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon; Terry Totten, Central Catholic

Players to watch: Evan Jones, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-2, 215, QB); Edward Tillman, Central Catholic (Jr., 5-8, 165, RB)

Four downs:

1. After back-to-back years of one and done in the WPIAL playoffs, Mt. Lebanon picked up its first postseason victory since 2015 when it came back to beat Seneca Valley in the 6A quarterfinals last week, 35-14. The Raiders and Blue Devils were tied at 7-7 at the half and Seneca Valley took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter before Mt. Lebanon scored 28 unanswered.

2. Another wrinkle surfaced for the Blue Devils offense last week when they turned to the wildcat formation and quarterback Evan Jones ran wild. The senior rushed for 195 yards and scored all five Mt. Lebanon touchdowns.

3. Central Catholic got a chance to do some live scouting last week after earning a quarterfinal bye. The Vikings ended up tied for the 6A regular season championship with Pine-Richland and North Allegheny. With head-to-head and Gardner Points tied, WPIAL tiebreaker points gave Central Catholic the edge as it earned the top seed.

4. Junior running back Edward Tillman is leading Central Catholic in rushing this season with 1,546 yards and has 22 touchdowns. In the Week 9 game at Mt. Lebanon, Tillman rushed for 206 yards and scored four touchdowns.

Extra point: Only two weeks ago, Central Catholic rolled to a 45-7 win over Mt. Lebanon that earned the Vikings a share of the 6A crown. The last time these two teams met in the WPIAL playoffs was a Class AAAA quarterfinal in 2011 when the Vikings defeated the Blue Devils, 31-14. The last time Mt. Lebanon qualified for the WPIAL championship game was in 2000 when the Blue Devils edged Woodland Hills, 14-13, in the final high school football game at Three Rivers Stadium.

No. 3 North Allegheny (10-1) at No. 2 Pine-Richland (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Pine-Richland Stadium

On the air: KDKA-AM 1020 and at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Winner gets: Mt. Lebanon vs. Central Catholic winner in the WPIAL Class 6A championship game at 8 p.m. Nov. 16

Last week: North Allegheny 48, Canon-McMillan 7; Pine-Richland bye

Coaches: Art Walker, North Allegheny; Eric Kasperowicz, Pine-Richland

Players to watch: Percise Colon, North Allegheny (Sr., 5-6, 165, RB); Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland (Jr., 5-10, 175, QB)

Four downs:

1. Last year, North Allegheny finished first in 6A, enjoyed a quarterfinal bye and then lost in its first playoff game to Seneca Valley. The Tigers tasted postseason success again last week with a 41-point victory over Canon-McMillan.

2. NA senior running back Percise Colon rushed for 124 yards while senior quarterback Ben Petschke threw four touchdowns and rushed for a score last week against the Big Macs. For the season, Colon has rushed for 1,032 yards and 12 scores while Petschke has thrown for 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns.

3. In two years of the current Class 6A format, Pine-Richland is two-for-two in finishing in the top two and earning a quarterfinal bye and a home semifinal game. Last year, Pine-Richland finished second and ended up winning a second straight district championship. This year, the Rams finished as tri-champions with Central Catholic and North Allegheny but earned the second seed after tiebreakers.

4. Junior quarterback Cole Spencer has connected on 171 of 253 passes for 2,490 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading the Pine-Richland offense. He is also second on the team in rushing. Since losing to Central Catholic, Spencer has thrown for over 1,000 yards in four wins over playoff teams Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Seneca Valley and North Allegheny.

Extra point: In the first meeting between these two teams only two weeks ago, Spencer threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns in the Rams’ 42-14 win over the visiting Tigers. The last playoff game between these two rivals was in the 2017 semifinals when Pine-Richland outscored North Allegheny, 49-25. The Tigers and Rams have combined for six WPIAL championship this decade with both teams winning three.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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