It seems about 279 football coaches have been quoted in recent years as saying running the football is still the best way to win a WPIAL title.
Most certainly, running the ball was the best way to win in the first round.
In first-round games Friday night, there were eight running backs who ran for 180 yards or more. Their teams had a record of 8-0.
Meanwhile, 11 quarterbacks threw for more than 180 yards. Their teams had a record of 4-7. Blackhawk's Chandler Kincade had the most yards passing (337) in the first round, and his team lost to Mars, 45-21.
Other teams that had more than 180 yards passing and lost were Avonworth, Burrell, Knoch, Apollo-Ridge, Penn-Trafford and McKeesport.
First-round games a year ago were the highest scoring since the WPIAL started taking four teams from each conference to the playoffs in 1998. The first round this season wasn't far behind.
The average score of the winning team in first-round games this year was 37.6 points, second only to a year ago when winners averaged 38.1 points.
The winning teams in Class AA scored the most of any classification, averaging 40.4 points. Overall, four teams scored 50 points or more, which ties 2006 for the most in first-round games. A year ago, seven teams scored 50 or more.
It is interesting to see how conferences fared in the first round of the playoffs. This season, the Big Seven Conference in Class A flexed its muscles while the Tri-County South in Class A and the Allegheny in Class AA were winless.
All four teams from the Big Seven won first-round games -- Sto-Rox, Rochester, Neshannock and Union. Meanwhile, the Tri-County South and Allegheny were 0-4. This was the second year in a row the Tri-County South failed to win a game.
The Southeastern Conference in Class AAAA and the Parkway in AAA each went 4-1 while the Interstate (AA), Midwestern (AA) and Black Hills (A) were 3-1.
Blackhawk's loss to Mars closed the door on Joe Hamilton's 47th year as a head coach. It certainly sounds as if Hamilton will be back at Blackhawk again next season.
"Every year at this time, I think about what I'm going to do," Hamilton said. "But I've learned to walk away from it, sit down and take some time. Then you go to a coaches clinic, see some spring football and you're all fired up again. I still like doing this, so I would imagine my plans would be to come back another year."
Clairton's Tyler Boyd scored the 100th touchdown of his career in a first-round victory Friday night against Frazier. Boyd has a way to go to reach the state record of 123 touchdowns. But the way Boyd scores, and if Clairton advances to the PIAA title game again, Boyd might have a chance to reach the record. If Clairton reaches the PIAA championship, that would give Boyd six more games.
• City League champion Perry gets a week off before playing in the PIAA Class AAAA playoffs Nov. 16 against McDowell of Erie. The game will be played at Fairview High School. McDowell (5-5) features Pitt recruit James Conner. Although Conner was recruited to play defense, he is having a big season at running back. Conner has 1,289 yards on 115 attempts (11.2 average).
• Washington's Shai McKenzie had his seventh 200-yard game of the season in the Little Prexies' 47-12 victory against Shady Side Academy.
• South Fayette extended its "mercy rule streak" to 10 with a 49-13 victory Friday against Freedom. In all 10 games this season, South Fayette has forced the mercy rule in the second half. Under the rule, the clock runs continuously when one team gets ahead by 35 points or more.
• Sites for the WPIAL quarterfinals games will be announced today.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: email@example.com or 412-263-1975. Twitter: @mwhiteburgh. First Published November 5, 2012 5:00 AM