WJPA's finest, Bob Gregg, will have a guest column -- a tradition, I'm told -- this week breaking down playoff scenarios and whatnot, but the final week of the season will be extra important for three/four teams: Peters Township, South Fayette and Ringgold or South Fayette.
Peters Township (3-4, 4-4) needs a win at Canon-McMillan to secure a playoff spot in Class AAAA. The Indians, though, have dropped three of four after Friday's 38-15 loss to Woodland Hills.
South Fayette (7-0, 8-0) can claim the Class AA Century Conference title with a win over visiting South Allegheny (6-1, 7-1). For my money, I doubt this one will be close; the Lions proved with a 51-12 win over Seton-La Salle that they're head and shoulders above anybody else in Class AA, 'cept maybe for Wash High or Aliquippa.
In what will be the O-R's Game of the Week, Trinity travels to Ringgold for the final playoff spot in the Class AAA Big Nine Conference. Both are 4-3 in conference, 4-4 overall. Ringgold has clinched a playoff spot; Trinity needs a win to get in.
But before we move on to the final week of the regular season, let's take a closer look at Week 8:
Game balls, 10 of 'em:
RB Shai McKenzie, Wash High -- Another comical stat line: seven carries, 256 yards and four touchdowns during the Prexies' 60-6 win at Freeport. Oh, and he became the WPIAL's leading rusher.
WR/DB Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette -- Caught six for 93 and TD ... also returned an interception for a second score. If you haven't had a chance to see Challingsworth play, do it. It's worth the effort. Although with the way South Fayette has been playing, you'll probably have several chances in the postseason.
RB Jason Stay, Beth-Center -- Different game, different back who stars for B-C. Stay had 11 carries for 100 yards and four touchdowns, helping the Bulldogs clinch the conference title with a 54-6 win over Avella.
QB Chavas Rawlins, Monessen -- Accounted for 259 yards of offense (181 passing, 78 rushing) to help Monessen hold off Chartiers-Houston, 28-21, and lock up a home playoff game with the No. 2 seed in the Class A Black Hills.
DL Kayne Jackson, Monessen -- Had three of the Greyhounds' eight sacks, seven of them coming from defensive linemen. Monessen undoubtedly won this one up front.
QB Dalton Wildman, West Greene -- Ran three times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Also hit on two of his four passes for 49 yards and another score during the Pioneers' 70-14 win over Geibel.
RB Brennan McMinn, Carmichaels -- Spelling starter Josh Mundell, McMinn had a big night, carrying 11 times for 211 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Just for good measure, he added one on a punt return during the Mikes' 56-21 win over Bentworth.
RB Grant Fetchett, South Fayette -- The Lions aren't generally thought of as a running team, but Fetchet has been consistently productive all season, including his 18-140-1TD night against South Park.
RB Darius Hays, Bentworth -- In a losing effort, yes, but Hays ran for 139 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries to lead Bentworth against Carmichaels.
WR Nic Santoyo, Jefferson-Morgan -- Scored three touchdowns three different ways: a rushing score, a long reception and on an interception return. That gives him six TDs in his past two games.
Team of the week: Jefferson-Morgan
The Rockets (5-2, 6-2) pretty much locked up the No. 2 seed in the Class A Tri-County South with Friday's 48-14 win at Mapletown. Figure, J-M, Carmichaels and Frazier all have two conference losses; J-M beat Carmichaels and Frazier. And all three play teams they at least should beat the final week of the season. WR Nic Santoyo has six TDs the past two weeks, and RB Dustin Conti will almost certainly eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this week against Geibel.
Game of the week: Keystone Oaks 28, McGuffey 21
McGuffey fought back from a 14-0 deficit and later tied it at 21 on a 3-yard run from quarterback Nathan Whipkey with 1 minute, 3 seconds to play. Overtime up next, right? Wrong. KO drove 54 yards on five plays and scored with 11 seconds, ending McGuffey's hopes of a playoff berth.
(Quick story because I know this sucks for the players: My senior year of high school -- at Brentwood, in 2001 -- we upset Jeannette, a team that was ranked in the state and had plenty more than our measly 25 players in Class AA. We were atop the Century Conference, then we blew it against Southmoreland and had to beat North Catholic or have South Park lose -- I believe -- in Week 9 to get in. We lost to North Catholic and found out as we were walking back to locker room that South Park won a game it shouldn't have won. No more playoffs. Never even had a 10th game scheduled. Season over. Definitely strikes an emotional chord to see something like that vanish so quickly.)
Hot and cold (three of each):
South Fayette -- Brett Brumbaugh at least looked human Friday night, completing 10 of 22 passes for 141 yards, two touchdowns and -- gulp -- and interception during a 42-0 win over South Park. But the Lions (7-0, 8-0) sure don't look beatable. At least not easily anyway.
Monessen -- Ever since that 52-7 loss to Clairton, man, Monessen has been lights out. Crazy to think Clairton is 45 points better than a top 5 team in Class A.
Wash High -- Surprised the Prexies beat Freeport? Not at all. That they won, 60-6? Against a team that was 6-1? Very impressive stuff.
McGuffey -- The Highlanders could've made this coming Friday's game at Steel Valley a win-and-in. Instead, they lost to a winless Keystone Oaks team.
Ringgold -- Losing to undefeated West Mifflin was understandable. Maybe even Elizabeth Forward, which has undergone a serious resurgence. But Friday's 14-7 loss to Highlands had to hurt.
Peters Township -- Yes, I know the losses have been to Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon and Woodland Hills, but dropping three of four isn't exactly a good way to avoid this section.
Quote of the week: "I'm so frustrated. I wanted to have a chance (to make the playoffs) next week," McGuffey coach Ed Dalton, whose team's playoff hopes were dashed by Keystone Oaks.
Weird stat of the week: This appeared in my high school football notebook in today's paper, but Shai McKenzie's numbers this season are crazy: 16 of 24 scores covering 25 or more yards; his average rushing TD covering 36.2 yards; and 869 of his WPIAL-best 1,578 yards have come on touchdown runs.
Looking ahead: Will avoid this section in deference to Bob's column as mentioned above. Be sure to look for it.