Top seeds: 1. Gateway (9-0), 2. Woodland Hills (8-1), 3. Bethel Park (8-1), 4. North Allegheny (8-1)
Defending champion: Bethel Park, lost in PIAA championship game.
Bits and pieces: Six of the 16 teams enter the tournament with a losing record. No. 15 Baldwin won two games. ... Gateway has played for the last two WPIAL titles, losing both games. ... Woodland Hills has not lost to a WPIAL team this year. The Wolverines dropped a Week 1 contest to Steubenville. ... Bethel Park won back-to-back conference titles for the first time.
Sleeper: Bethel Park. Despite the No. 3 seed, few are giving the defending champs much of a chance.
Championship: Woodland Hills over Gateway
Top seeds: 1. Thomas Jefferson (9-0), 2. Hopewell (9-0), 3. Chartiers Valley (8-1), 4. West Allegheny (7-2)
Defending champion: Thomas Jefferson, won PIAA championship.
Bits and pieces: Thomas Jefferson can win a fourth straight WPIAL championship, which hasn't happened since the dominant Braddock teams of the 1950s. Waynesburg lost to Braddock in a WPIAL title game during that era. ... Teams from the Keystone Conference are 0-32 the past eight years and it might be difficult to break the losing streak. Conference champion Greensburg-Salem, seeded fifth, plays New Castle. ... Trinity has gone with a pair of sophomore running backs in recent weeks are enters postseason play on a three-game win streak. ... Hopewell running back Rushel Shell has rushed for 2,000 this season.
Sleeper: New Castle
Championship: Thomas Jefferson over Hopewell
Top seeds: 1. South Fayette (9-0, 2. Mt. Pleasant (9-0), 3. Center (8-1), 4. Beaver Falls (8-1)
Defending champion: Aliquippa, lost in PIAA semifinals
Bits and pieces: Aliquippa, the No. 3 team in the Observer-Reporter Class AA rankings, is the No. 9 seed and plays at No. 8 McGuffey in the first round. The Quips finished third in the Midwestern Conference. ... Greensburg Central Catholic, considered the top Class AA team in the state by some publications entering the year, finished third in the Interstate Conference and plays at Freeport. ... Aliquippa and Beaver Falls are on the same side of the bracket but could not meet until the semifinals. ... McGuffey is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1994. ... The last time Washington made the playoffs was 2005 when the 14th-seeded Prexies shut out Aliquippa, 7-0. Washington is seeded 14th again this year and plays at Center.
Sleeper: Greensburg Central Catholic
Championship: Beaver Falls over Mt. Pleasant
Top seeds: 1. Rochester (9-0), 2. Laurel (8-1), 3. Clairton (8-1), 4. North Catholic (7-2)
Defending champion: Clairton, lost in PIAA championship
Bits and pieces: Rochester is the only undefeated team in the bracket. The Rams have played in six championship games this decade. ... Beth-Center, the No. 7 seed, drew Serra Catholic in the first round. The Eagles may be without quarterback Rob Heatherington, who was knocked out of the Week 9 loss to Clairton with a shoulder injury. ... Laurel opened eyes with a Week 1 win against Rochester. The Spartans have lost just once, by seven points to Rochester. ... Carmichaels is in the WPIAL playoffs for the 12th consecutive year. ... Monessen head coach Andy Pacak was re-instated by the PIAA after it was ruled he was incorrectly ejected from the Greyhounds' last game against California.
Championship: Rochester over Clairton