***We can crown three conference champions: Washington in the Class AA Interstate Conference; South Fayette in the Class AA Century Conference; and Beth-Center in the Class A Tri-County South Conference.
***Of the 21 schools in our coverage area, nine teams made the playoffs: Peters Township, Ringgold, Trinity, Washington, South Fayette, Beth-Center, Jefferson-Morgan, Carmichaels and Monessen. Of that group, four -- Beth-Center, Washington, South Fayette and Monessen -- finished in the top eight and will host first-round games.
***Wash High's Shai McKenzie finished the regular season with 127 carries for 1,902 yards and 30 touchdowns ... top passer was South Fayette's Brett Brumbaugh, who was 119-175-2,138-32TD-3INT ... WR was Brumbaugh's teammate, Zach Challingsworth, who had 46-952-13TD.
***Pairings meeting is tonight. I will have plenty more from there as far as seedings, matchups, reactions, etc., but first let's take a look back at Week 9:
Game balls, 10 of 'em:
RB Shai McKenzie, Wash High -- Broke the single-season rushing record at Wash High and became the WPIAL rushing champion with 11 carries for 323 yards and six touchdowns during a 69-6 win over Waynesburg.
RB Patrick Frey, Trinity -- Had 31 carries for 153 yards and a TD during the Hillers' 31-30 win in double-overtime Saturday at Ringgold. It was the heaviest load Frey has shouldered this season since suffering a nasty leg injury last year, and he responded in a big way.
DE Jimmy Saieva, Chartiers-Houston -- Recorded four sacks, recovered two fumbles and also forced one, as Chartiers-Houston closed its season with a dominant, 42-0 win over Fort Cherry, the first for the Bucs over the Rangers since 2006.
QB Cory Owen, Peters Township -- Completed eight of 13 passes for 127 yards and TD. Also ran seven times for 72 yards and three scores during the Indians' 35-0 win at Canon-McMillan on Friday.
QB Santino Paris, Avella -- Completed 10 of 22 passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns during the Eagles' 34-19 win over Bentworth. Though it did not make the playoffs, Avella (6-3) wrapped up its best season since 1994.
QB/DB Chavas Rawlins, Monessen -- Completed 3 of 4 passes for 92 yards, eclipsing 1,000 passing yards for the season; he now has 1,085. Also scored on a 51-yard run, a 74-yard punt return and a 34-yard interception return during a 52-10 win over Carlynton.
QB Nico Law, Ringgold -- Though he was hurt late, he accounted for 166 yards of offense while throwing and running for separate scores. Gave Trinity fits running out of Ringgold's shotgun package, too.
FB Brent Blacharczyk, McGuffey -- Ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to help the Highlanders come back from a 14-point halftime deficit. McGuffey will play a 10th week game against Laurel Highlands, but not a bad way for a senior to close his final regular season.
South Fayette Defense -- Lions beat South Allegheny, 42-0. South Allegheny was 7-1. South Fayette recorded its sixth shutout of the season and fourth straight. Gladiators had just 72 yards of offense and four first downs early in the fourth quarter.
QB Dante Sicchitano, Bentworth -- Threw for 117 yards and a touchdown while running for a second score during a 34-19 loss to Avella. Another senior who ends his last regular season with a solid performance.
Team of the week: Trinity
When Trinity turned it over on downs on its first three drives Saturday, I thought that was enough of an omen; there was no way Trinity could win this game. But despite trailing by two touchdowns at halftime, the Hillers scored 17 consecutive points to take a three-point lead at 8:17 of the fourth quarter, later hanging on in 2OT for the win. What'd this win do? Probably moved Trinity from seed Nos. 14-16 to Nos. 9-11.
Runner-Up: South Fayette
Beating a 7-1 team shouldn't be so easy, should it? Well, regardless, the Lions made it look that way. QB Brett Brumbaugh had a 15-18-180-2TD day ... WR Zach Challingsworth was 6-83-2TD ... RB Grant Fetchet had 118-TD ... defense posted its fourth straight shutout. South Fayette has outscored opponents 456-24 this season, and its closest game was a 51-12 pasting of Seton-La Salle in Week 5.
Game of the week: Trinity 31, Ringgold 30 (2OT)
I asked Trinity coach Ryan Coyle whether he's gone gray yet -- jokingly since he's only 26. His answer? "I think I’ve aged a lot in the past few years. Getting into [coaching] this early has probably cut my career way down." In about a 30-minute span Saturday, we saw a field goal with less than a minute left to tie it; a turnover; a missed field goal to force double-overtime; a near fumble by Patrick Frey, only to have him pick it up for a 6-yard gain; a touchdown; a Statue of Liberty play on fourth-and-goal for Ringgold; and a stuff on a two-point conversion.
Hot and cold (three of each): Gonna hold off on this. Seems to me the hot teams would be the ones who made the playoffs, the cold ones the ones that didn't.
Quote of the week: “It’s an honor. We have had some great backs come through here and to even be mentioned with them is an honor. When I started the season, I didn’t have my eye on breaking any records. I just wanted to keep getting better and help us win games," Wash High RB Shai McKenzie on setting the program's single-season rushing record.
Weird stat of the week: Washington County teams improved by 11 wins over last year's regular season. Need proof? Check this out, courtesy of McGuffey coach Ed Dalton.
Looking ahead: In case you missed it, here's a link to my column in Sunday's Observer-Reporter, which includes my predictions for tonight's pairings meeting.