District Notebook: PAC title on line between close rivals

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Washington and Jefferson and Waynesburg are rivals geographically and also because they play in the same conference.

But the two schools will take their rivalry to another level Saturday when they meet at Waynesburg's John F. Wiley Stadium. The Presidents' Athletic Conference championship is on the line and the winner will earn the conference's automatic bid into the Division III playoffs.

The Presidents (7-2, 6-1) have stumbled several times this season but have maintained pace with the Yellow Jackets (9-0, 7-0), and with a win would force a tie for first place and claim the tiebreaker.

And if recent history is any indication, the Presidents should be favored despite being the second-place team because they have won eight in a row against the Yellow Jackets, though a year ago they escaped with a 31-30 overtime decision.

But the Yellow Jackets have been on a roll this year and have relied on a stingy defense to lead them and the unit will need to play well in order to slow down the Presidents offense.

Waynesburg leads the PAC in scoring defense (16 ppg), but the Presidents defense also has been stout and has given up only 20 per game.

But not only have the Presidents dominated the series recently, they have dominated it overall and own a 36-3 record against the Yellow Jackets, who have not won a PAC title since 2003.

A Clash of styles

Something has to give in the PSAC championship Saturday between East Division champion Shippensburg (10-0) and host West Division champion IUP (9-1).

That's because the Red Raiders feature the top-ranked scoring offense in NCAA Division II while IUP's defense is Division II's top-ranked defense (total yards) and is among the top 10 in scoring as well.

Shippensburg is averaging 566.5 yards of total offense (411 through the air) and 52.7 points per game while the Crimson Hawks have given up only 239.9 total yards and 11.4 points per game.

Much like the aforementioned PAC game, this has been a very lopsided series as IUP owns a 44-17-4 edge and has won 20 in a row against the Red Raiders.

The previous time Shippensburg beat IUP is 1988 and the most recent time the Red Raiders won at IUP was 1981 as they are 5-24-2 in games at IUP.

Familiar face

Basketball season is upon us and a number of district teams already have begun to practice and play exhibition games and some will begin playing regular-season games this weekend.

The LaRoche women, who won't get started playing games until next week, have a new coach but she is an extremely familiar name in these circles as she is one of the best players in WPIAL history.

Kamela Gissendanner led Clairton to two WPIAL Class A titles and is that school's all-time leading scorer, was a 1,200-point scorer at Penn State and also played a season in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks, but she will make her coaching debut this season with the Lady Redhawks.

She inherits a veteran team that finished 22-6 last year and is two-time AMCC champions and favored to make it three in a row.

The Red Hawks will be led by Jessica Pitts, who was the AMCC player of the year and defensive player of the year last season. Pitts, who graduated from West Mifflin, averaged 12.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game.

Fast swimmers

Westminster College men's swimming and diving appeared in the Endless Pools/CollegeSwimming.Com Division III Top 25 for the first time this season.

The Titans appeared at No. 24 after beating Allegheny, 144-136, Saturday on the strength of a big meet from sophomore Jake Pletz of Peters Township, who won three races. Pletz won the 400-yard freestyle, the 200-yard backstroke and was on the meet-clinching 400-yard freestyle relay team.

More rankings

IUP is No. 13 in the Division II Coaches poll and No. 15 in the D2Football.com poll and California is No. 22 in the D2football.com poll and receiving votes in the coaches poll.

Waynesburg is No. 13 in the Division III coaches poll and No. 18 in the D3football.com poll.

And Youngstown State is receiving votes in the Division I-AA coaches poll.

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Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or Twitter: @paulzeise.


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