Varsity Blog program note: Tonight's live semifinal blog will come from the West Allegheny vs. Thomas Jefferson game. For score updates and notes from other games, follow the @PGVarsityXtra Twitter account to the right of this blog. If you have a score update, note or photo, "tweet" it with #wpial.
Before we get to the WPIAL semifinal predictions, one note about TV games tonight. Root Sports will televise the Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny game, to be shown on delay, following tonight's Penguins game.
Xfinity Comcast television is doing the Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth game, which can be seen "On Demand" starting tomorrow night.
Now, for the semifinal predictions, plus one PIAA game involving City League champion Brashear.
WPIAL CLASS AAAA
Pine-Richland vs. McKeesport - I don't think there is any doubt that Pine-Richland's offense with quarterback Ben DiNucci (pictured) and his strong offensive line will move and score points. The biggest question is whether McKeesport's flexbone offense is good enough to keep pace with the Rams? I say no. Winner: Pine-Richland.
Central Catholic vs. Penn-Trafford - Penn-Trafford's offense is much more balanced than Central Catholic. But will that matter? I really like Penn-Trafford and this game is awfully interesting. Line play will be the key. I took Central Catholic at the start of the playoffs. Winner: Central Catholic.
WPIAL CLASS AAA
Thomas Jefferson vs. West Allegheny - A classic matchup between perennial powers. Do you think there has ever been a game with 11 WPIAL titles between the two coaches (Bob Palko with seven and Bill Cherpak with four)? Well, actually yes. West Allegheny played Woodland Hills this year and there were 13 between Palko and George Novak. It will be interesting to see if West Allegheny uses the wildcat offense tonight, like it did often last week. Run defense will be key for both teams. Winner: West Allegheny.
Central Valley vs. Ringgold - It has been 27 years since Ringgold has been in the semifinals. Standout running back Chacar Berry was slowed by a bad ankle last week. The Rams need him at full strength. But even so ... Winner: Central Valley.
WPIAL CLASS AA
Washington vs. Aliquippa - Aliquippa would be the favorite even if Washington was at full strength. But some injuries to key players could spell trouble to Washington. Winner: Aliquippa (fixed error from earlier this afternoon).
South Fayette vs. Seton-LaSalle - Seton-LaSalle's best player, Danzel McKinley-Lewis (pictured) did not play the first time the teams met. No doubt he will make a difference. But will he make THAT much of a difference? South Fayette won the first time, 41-14. Winner: South Fayette.
WPIAL CLASS A
Clairton vs. Neshannock - There is no question that Neshannock will give Clairton its best game of the season. But it's hard to see Neshannock giving Clairton its first loss of the season. Winner: Clairton (fixed error from this afternoon).
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic vs. Avonworth - When CWNC beat Avonworth, 28-0, earlier this season, the game was scoreless at halftime. This one might be close the whole way, but the same team will come out on top. Winner: Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.
PIAA CLASS AAAA
Erie McDowell vs. Brashear - City League champion Brashear goes on the road to play McDowell in Erie Saturday afternoon. Brashear has had a week off since winning the City League championship. Terrific job by coach Rick Murphy in getting his team to peak at the right time and knock off No. 1 Allderdice. This isn't a great McDowell team, but still a level above Brashear. Winner: McDowell.