Notes, thoughts and highlights from the first night of the WPIAL playoffs.
It has been documented how scoring in WPIAL football has been on the rise, not only in the regular season but also the playoffs in recent year. The first night of the 2016 playoffs saw two of the highest-scoring playoff games in WPIAL history.
In two wild contests, New Castle upset South Fayette, 51-43, in a 4A quarterfinal while Springdale defeated Carmichaels, 50-44.
The 94 points scored in both games ties for the fifth-most in a playoff game. The most was 118 when Jeannette defeated Aliquippa, 70-48, in 2007. The second-highest total is 104 when New Castle defeated Indiana, 55-49, in 2008.
Fort Cherry brings respect
The Tri-County South in Class 1A has been much maligned for its playoff performances over the years, but Fort Cherry maybe brought the conference a little respect when it defeated Sto-Rox Friday. It was the only win for the Tri-County South, although conference member California plays Bishop Canevin tonight.
Frazier brought the conference some respect last year when it made the semifinals. But over the past six seasons, Tri-County South teams are now 2-22 in first-round games.
Zane's final game
A tough way for Zane Dudek to end his career. The kid with the best season of any running back in WPIAL history played only a few plays Friday against Gateway before being injured in the abdominal area. His Armstrong team went on to lose to Gateway, 38-20. How bad is the injury? Not sure. But Zane was on his way this morning to watch Washington & Jefferson host Geneva.
Opsatnik for two more
The more West Allegheny wins, the better chance D.J. Opsatnik has at the WPIAL and state record for field goals. Opsatnik made two more Friday to bring his career total to 32. The WPIAL and state record is 35. Bob Milspaw of Peters Township kicked 35 from 1992-95 for the WPIAL record. He is also tied for the state record with David Soldner of Manheim Township, who made 35 from 2004-07.
This n' that
**** All six semifinals in Class 6A, 5A and 4A are rematches of games earlier this year. That's simply a by-product of having six classes. With six classes, fewer teams are in each class, especially in 6A, 5A and 4A. Those three classes have only two conferences. Heck, all four teams in the 6A semifinals are from the Northern Seven Conference. That says something about the Northern Seven, but it also says something about the Southeastern, which everyone knew when the WPIAL made the conferences. What everyone knew is the Northern Seven is much stronger than the Southeastern.
**** Interesting game in Class 2A quarterfinals is Riverside against Freedom. Freedom's coach is Tom Liberty, who stepped down as Riverside's coach after last season.
Before the season started, I was going to predict that either Freedom or Riverside was going to be in the 2A semifinals, but I forgot.
**** I might wear a bag over my head for This Week In High School Sports show with colleague Brian Batko. That's how bad my predictions were - 2-9. That's hideous.
**** Gio Vonne Sanders, Jeannette's fine quarterback, did not play in Friday night's game because of an injury.
**** Gateway had QB Brady Walker with 464 yards passing against Armstrong. That is the fourth-highest total in WPIAL history.
**** The 3A semifinals have the best matchups. Derry vs. Aliquippa has great storylines. But Keystone Oaks-Beaver Falls has is a tremendous matchup also. Can BF defense control Alex Smith?
**** For the record, Derry's last playoff win before last night was in 1995 when it defeated Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals before losing to Belle Vernon in the semifinals. Remember Greg Dorn the coach and his son the quarterback?
Great defensive showing by Woodland Hills against Franklin Regional last night. Check out highlights and coaches comments:
Pine-Richland beats Bethel Park on field goal with one second left. Check out highlights: