I left last night's Canon-McMillan at Bethel Park game with a couple distinct impressions.
1. Bethel Park receiver John Schademan is a clutch, big-game performer. He's done it all year and he did it again last night.
2. The Black Hawks have nice offensive balance. They might be good enough to get to Heinz Field. We'll see.
3. Canon-McMillan is vastly improved on defense. The Big Macs took away Bethel Park's power running game and as Coach Guy Montecalvo said after the game, "Nobody has really run on us all year."
The defensive line played another great game. And it seemed linebacker Brad Strimel was in on every tackle. On one play, he picked up the Bethel Park ball carrier and tossed him to the turf like he weighed 30 pounds.
4. That said, C-M still has a propensity to yield the big play and it cost them against Bethel Park. Whether it's a misread or a blown coverage, seems that pass defense lets C-M down in big games. It's getting better, but it must get better in order to contend for a WPIAL championship.
5. C-M quarterback Steve Roach wasn't particularly accurate last night, but he made plays when needed. He had a couple big third down conversions and he looked like the fastest offensive player in the game.
** McGuffey clinched its first playoff berth since 1994 with last night's win over Waynesburg and South Allegheny's loss. The Varsity Letters said all year that the Highlanders were a tough, playoff-caliber squad.
Given how hard they played Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette, I doubt any conference champ wants to draw McGuffey in the first round.
** Any on else surprised to see the 14-0 win for Monessen over Carmichaels? The Varsity Letters expected a shootout.
** Fort Cherry coach Tim Garry told me earlier in the week he was very worried about how well Burgettstown's offense matched up against the Rangers' defense. The Blue Devils, behind freshman quarterback Dylan Bongiorni, can throw the ball. They did, but they also ran well.
Still, despite the 34-33 score, don't get down on the Rangers. Good teams find ways to win games like this.
And Burgettstown is a much better football team than it was a month ago.
** I'll say the same thing about Ringgold. The 7-3 win over West Mifflin doesn't look impressive, but it is a win and it guaranteed Ringgold a playoff berth with a winning record for the first time this decade.
In it's previous three playoff appearances, Ringgold had losing records.
** Remember last week when the Varsity Letters said to remember Charleroi freshman running back Quinten Briggs?
Well, he put up 267 yards and three touchdowns against Wash High Friday night.