Lots of intriguing matchups throughout the WPIAL playoffs tonight including Penn Hills at Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon at Shaler, New Castle at Greensburg-Salem and Sto-Rox at Shady Side Academy.
Aliquippa (8-1) at McGuffey (7-2)
The Quips were one of three teams from the always-tough Midwestern Conference to finish 8-1 overall and 7-1 in conference. Center and Beaver Falls were the others. Aliquippa finished third thanks, in part, to its loss to Beaver Falls.
The last time Aliquippa lost in the first round came in 2005, when No. 14 Washington shut out the Quips, 7-0. That team was seeded to high. This version sure looks better than a No. 9 seed in Class AA but that's the only place the WPIAL could put Aliquippa because of the third-place finish.
McGuffey has played sound defense all year, particularly at home. The Highlanders allowed 12 points in five home games, all coming last week versus Washington. They'll need to chew up clock with the wing-T offense and create a couple turnovers in this one.
Trinity (4-5) at Mars (6-3)
A month ago, Trinity was 1-5 following what Hillers coach Ed Dalton called "embarrassing" performances against teams like Belle Vernon and Chartiers Valley. Three consecutive wins got Trinity back into the playoffs and one interesting first-round contest.
Sophomore running back Eric Richards has played well for Trinity and it's helped the passing game. Quarterback Andrew Steratore has two reliable targets in Joe Havrilak and Dusty Avolio. They'll need to make some big plays on the road against a tough Mars team.
The Planets run their own version of the wing-T and they'll challenge a Trinity defense that has played well this year despite the record. That defense will be without Ken Wilkins (mono).
Brentwood (5-4) at Fort Cherry (7-2)
Brentwood's regular season mirrors that of Trinity. It started 0-4 with losses to defending PIAA Class AA champion Wilmington, South Side Beaver, Avonworth and North Catholic. The latter two were the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. Brentwood finished third thanks to a five-game win streak.
Of those final five wins, only one (Springdale) came against a team with more than three victories.
Fort Cherry has seven wins after rallying to take three straight following a puzzling loss to Avella. With the exception of a loss to Clairton, Fort Cherry finds ways to make big plays at Jim Garry Stadium, whether it's a long run or kickoff return from Gary Kiefer, a Tanner Garry to Nicholas Hurley touchdown pass or a blocked kick.