WPIAL high school football playoff pairings announced

When the WPIAL football committee gets together annually to set playoff pairings and seedings, the meeting sometimes lasts well into the afternoon. On Monday, the committee might have set a record for the quickest meeting.

"There normally is a lot of debate," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. "For whatever reason, there wasn't much debate this year and we got done very early."

In other words, the pairings were relatively easy to make this year. The meeting lasted only a few hours. And after the pairings were announced at a meeting Monday night at The DoubleTree in Green Tree with coaches and athletic directors, there seemed to be little or no complaining. The playoffs begin Friday with 32 first-round games and culminate Nov. 23 with four title games at Heinz Field.

The subjects that could cause the most debate apparently were debated only for a short time.

Who should be the No. 1 seed in Class AAAA? Easy. It was Upper St. Clair over Central Catholic.

Who should get the No. 1 seed in AAA? O'Malley said there was little question it should be West Allegheny over Thomas Jefferson.

What should be done with Beaver Falls? Well, the Tigers were given the No. 6 seed in Class AA and put on the opposite bracket of Aliquippa. Beaver Falls is the only team to give Aliquippa a game this year, losing, 34-28.

"The toughest bracket was Class A," O'Malley said. "We didn't know what to do with Clairton, Monessen and Fort Cherry and then you had a Neshannock team that was pretty highly thought of."

Monessen, Clairton and Fort Cherry tied for the Black Hills Conference title, but Monessen finished first, Clairton second and Fort Cherry third after tiebreakers. Monessen was given the No. 3 seed, Clairton No. 4 and Fort Cherry has a road game at Carmichaels. Fort Cherry couldn't be seeded in the top eight because it had to play on the road.

Neshannock is seeded sixth.

As for giving Upper St. Clair the No. 1 seed in Class AAAA, O'Malley said, "It was a consensus opinion for Upper St. Clair and we did what [Central Catholic coach] Terry Totten recommended." He was referring to comments Totten made that Upper St. Clair should be given the first seed.

In Class AAA, West Allegheny and Thomas Jefferson each were undefeated and both had impressive seasons, but West Allegheny was given the No. 1 seed.

"I think if nothing else it might have come down to the fact that West Allegheny is the defending champ," O'Malley said.

Neither West Allegheny coach Bob Palko nor Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Cherpak were worried about the No. 1 seed.

"We were No. 1 last year and we lost [in the semifinals], so maybe it's a good change," Cherpak said.

Palko said: "What's the difference? We've been in this long enough to know it's not about seeds, it's about matchups, who is playing well and who is injured."

Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.

First Published October 28, 2013 7:37 PM

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