The eyes of the WPIAL football community will closely follow Friday's Quad-A showdown between Penn Hills and Gateway, the nation's No. 3 team according to USA Today. Many believe these two are the WPIAL's premier teams.
Not everyone wants to drive to Monroeville, however. Fortunately for those of us attending games in the southwest corner of the state, Week 1 offers a few gems. Here's the top three:
1. Rochester at Monessen (5 stars)
Preseason rankings suggest these two tradition-rich Class A powers will meet again in the WPIAL Class A championship. Rochester brings back the majority of its team, while Monessen also returns a lot of talent. Many believe the Rams are the team to beat. Others, like Pennsylvania Football News which ranked Monessen No. 2 in the state, like the Greyhounds. Monessen needs a high-profile win.
2. Trinity at Canon-McMillan (3 1/2 stars)
No question, this game features the top talents in Washington County. Canon-Mac has Mike Hull and Chad Hagan. Trinity has Jack Jamerson and Ken Wilkens. Were this game later in the year, I'd like it a little more. Trinity has four first-year starters on the offensive line, as well as new starters at quarterback and tailback. Could take a few weeks for the Hillers to click.
3. Mt. Pleasant at McGuffey (3 stars)
Hard to believe, but this Week 1 contest could prove vital in determining on of four playoff berths in the rugged Class AA Interstate Conference. Mt. Pleasant was an annual Class AAA playoff team before dropping down this year. McGuffey continues to inch closer to postseason play. This could be the Highlanders year.