Monday, October 29, 2012

Inside the playoff brackets

Made it home safe and sound from the pairings meeting. Even got sent home from the office because I've been fighting a really nasty cold the past couple of days.

But before I take my nightly dose of NyQuil -- I swear, for those of you who don't like my reasoning, that I haven't yet -- here's a breakdown of why (I think) our area teams were seeded where they are and what each of them are looking at moving forward:

Class AAAA
No. 15 Peters Township at No. 2 Gateway
At first blush, I thought this seed was a little low for PT. But I might see what the football committee was thinking. First off, I can't make a case for Peters Township being higher than No. 12 Butler or No. 13 Hempfield, as Hempfield beat two playoff teams (McKeesport, Kiski Area), and Butler beat Hempfield. Peters, by comparison, didn't beat a playoff team, though it did play in a much tougher conference. Kiski Area was seeded 14 and beat teams that were a combined 8-24 ... Peters 5-26. Kiski also beat one playoff team (Altoona) to Peters' none. 

Class AAA
No. 13 Ringgold at No. 4 West Allegheny
Ringgold was a No. 5 seed in a three-conference bracket, which automatically puts them in the 13-15 range. Given the Rams lost four of five down the stretch and only beat one playoff team (Belle Vernon, seeded 16th), this is probably accurate. That being said, much of Ringgold's woes came during the middle of the season when it lost its starting running back (Demetrius Louis) either entirely or for large chunks of games. The Rams were also breaking in a new starting QB in Nico Law. I think they could be a tough out, but they couldn't be above Trinity because of head-to-head, and I don't think either should be ahead of No. 11 Hopewell, the No. 4 seed out of a much tougher conference (Parkway).

No. 12 Trinity at No. 5 Montour
See above. I wouldn't rank Ringgold or Trinity above Hopewell, but I don't understand putting Trinity three spots below Elizabeth Forward ... when the Hillers beat the Warriors in Week 1. Consider, Trinity and EF beat the same playoff teams: Belle Vernon and Ringgold. Perhaps my only way of explaining the WPIAL's thinking is Trinity lost to Knoch, the No. 10 seed, by 33, and EF played Thomas Jefferson, the No. 1 seed, to within two points. But again, I'm a big believer in head-to-head matchups.

Class AA
No. 15 Freedom at No. 2 South Fayette
Talked with South Fayette coach Joe Rossi, and he expected this. Talked with Wash High coach Mike Bosnic, and he expected this. There was little suspense with where South Fayette and Wash High would fall -- below Aliquippa, above everyone else, the only classification with more than one undefeated team.

No. 14 Shady Side Academy at No. 3 Wash High
See above. And I will say this: 1) Wash High doesn't have an easy road, with a possible Shady Side Academy-Seton-La Salle-South Fayette path to Heinz, but 2) The possible Class AA semifinal against South Fayette would be one of the best games of the year. 

Class A
No. 4 Neshannock at No. 13 Jefferson-Morgan
Gotta love the Tri-County South, right? The only place where a second-place team can host a playoff game ... as a No. 13 seed. A case could be made for the Rockets to jump Apollo-Ridge or Bishop Canevin, but I'm guessing the WPIAL was more impressed with A-R's win over No. 14 seed Avonworth, which has wins over Northgate and Springdale. And Bishop Canevin plays in the Black Hills Conference, which has been called the SEC of the WPIAL. (Although it should be noted that if Imani Christian was eligible for the playoffs, it would have come down to a tiebreaker/Gardner Points between Imani, Canevin and Brentwood for the final spot.)

No. 10 Union at No. 7 Beth-Center
This is a draw that, despite the seed, Beth-Center has to be pretty happy about. Yes, Union played Neshannock to within eight last week, but Union also didn't beat a single playoff team. I'm sure there are plenty of we-won-our-conference-but-we're-only-a-seven-seed complaints for the Bulldogs, but take the numbers away and it's a pretty good draw. I could actually see slotting Union at 13 and bumping J-M, A-R and Canevin down one ... though I'm guessing that won't happen.

No. 12 Apollo-Ridge at No. 5 Monessen
I wasn't as surprised with where Monessen ended up as I was with where North Catholic did. The Trojans won their conference -- a conference that, if you read above, got some decent respect -- but they're the No. 6 seed. Not sure the Greyhounds could make a case to move up, considering Neshannock beat No. 2 seed Sto-Rox and No. 6 North Catholic and lost to No. 3 Rochester by a touchdown. I also don't think there would have been any complaints if Monessen was sixth -- and thus on the other side of the bracket as Clairton.

No. 15 Carmichaels at No. 2 Sto-Rox
Mikes coach John Menhart told me he was hoping Carmichaels would get Monessen, but I'm not sure I ever see the No. 3 seed out of the Tri-County South getting a No. 11/12 seed or Monessen, which lost to Clairton by 45, rising to a No. 2 seed. Either way, it would have made for an interesting game. The good news for Carmichaels is that if the Mikes can somehow pull out an upset, a familiar opponent in Beth-Center could be next, and the bottom half of the bracket features a team (Rochester) that Carmichaels probably matches up well against. I will say this in favor of Carmichaels: They were right there with J-M in Week 1, but committed five turnovers and fell 1-yard short of the end zone on a Josh Mundell run as time expired. So they could very well have been in the 13 range ... and closer to Monessen.

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