WPIAL reveals 2020 football playoff brackets
Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 7:47 PM
The WPIAL promised its football teams weeks ago that if they canceled games for covid-19, those decisions wouldn’t hurt their qualifying chances come playoff time.
The WPIAL kept it word.
In playoff brackets released Saturday night, the WPIAL included a couple of teams that played only four regular-season games as it navigated an unprecedented selection process under covid-19 conditions.
“We didn’t penalize the teams,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said, “but we didn’t reward them either for things they didn’t do.”
An obvious example was Serra Catholic in Class 2A. The Eagles were undefeated at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Allegheny Conference but seeded seventh in an eight-team bracket. The WPIAL committee accepted the team’s resumes as is, and didn’t try to fill in the gaps.
“They didn’t want to rank certain teams higher or lower because they don’t know,” Scheuneman said.
The coronavirus pandemic made this year’s selection process different than in years past because canceled games made traditional tie-breaker formulas ineffective. In some cases, the WPIAL football committee was responsible for deciding which teams qualified and which didn’t.
As a result, Saturday’s committee meeting was longer than usual and lasted more than four hours.
The No. 1 seeds went to North Allegheny in Class 6A, Pine-Richland in 5A, Aliquippa in 4A, Central Valley in 3A, Beaver Falls in 2A and Clairton in A. The tournaments start Friday.
Along with playoff brackets, the WPIAL announced sites for the six championship games.
Heinz Field won’t be used this season. Instead, North Allegheny will host the Class 5A, 4A and 3A championships. The Class 6A, 2A and A finals are scheduled at North Hills’ Martorelli Stadium.
Scheuneman helped announced the brackets live on the TribLive High School Sports Network. The WPIAL canceled its annual in-person pairings meeting in response to the pandemic.
Listen to the WPIAL Football Pairings Show on Trib HSSN.
The hardest bracket to seed was Class 2A, Scheuneman said, because the committee had added flexibility there. The committee could’ve taken an uneven number of teams from the 2A conferences, but instead stuck with the top two teams from each.
The committee considered taking three teams from the Midwestern at the expense of another conference, but ultimately elected to leave New Brighton out of the playoffs.
“There was probably an hour’s worth of discussion on that very topic,” Scheuneman said. “We even took a vote on it and it wasn’t unanimous. There were certainly folks in the room who felt differently, and that’s OK. That’s part of the process.”
Along with Serra Catholic, the other qualifier to play only four regular-season games was Gateway (4-0) in Class 5A. The defending WPIAL champion was seeded second despite having three games canceled over covid-19 concerns.
North Allegheny missed three conference games through no fault of its own and still received the No. 1 seed in Class 6A.
Here’s a look at the entire schedule for the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs:
No. 4 Seneca Valley (4-2) at No. 1 North Allegheny (5-0), 7 p.m.; No. 3 Central Catholic (4-2) at No. 2 Mt. Lebanon (4-2), 7 p.m.
No. 8 South Fayette (4-3) at No. 1 Pine-Richland (6-0), 7 p.m.; No. 5 Upper St. Clair (5-2) at No. 4 Penn-Trafford (5-1), 7 p.m.; No. 7 Penn Hills (4-3) at No. 2 Gateway (4-0), 7 p.m.; No. 6 Woodland Hills (5-2) at No. 3 Peters Township (6-0), 7 p.m.
No. 8 Hampton (5-2) at No. 1 Aliquippa (7-0), 7 p.m.; No. 5 Chartiers Valley (6-1) at No. 4 Belle Vernon (5-1), 7 p.m.; No. 7 Mars (6-1) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (5-1), 7 p.m.; No. 6 McKeesport (6-1) at No. 3 Plum (7-0), 7 p.m.
No. 8 East Allegheny (5-1) at No. 1 Central Valley (7-0), 7 p.m.; No. 5 South Park (4-3) at No. 4 Keystone Oaks (4-2), 7 p.m.; No. 7 Mt. Pleasant (4-3) vs. No. 2 North Catholic (7-0) at Mars, 7 p.m.; No. 6 Freeport (3-2) at No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0), 7 p.m.
No. 8 Western Beaver (5-1) vs. No. 1 Beaver Falls (7-0) at Geneva, 7 p.m.; No. 5 Washington (5-2) at No. 4 Apollo-Ridge (5-0), 7 p.m.; No. 7 Serra Catholic (4-0) at No. 2 McGuffey (6-1), 7 p.m.; No. 6 Laurel (5-2) at No. 3 Sto-Rox (6-1), 7 p.m.
No. 8 OLSH (5-2) at No. 1 Clairton (6-0), 7 p.m.; No. 5 Shenango (6-1) at No. 4 California (6-0), 7 p.m.; No. 7 Springdale (5-2) at No. 2 Rochester (6-1), 7 p.m.; No. 6 Avella (5-2) at No. 3 Jeannette (6-1), 7 p.m.
Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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