With one week remaining before the postseason begins, it's time to begin considering candidates for the Observer-Reporter Player of the Year.
Christian Brumbaugh, the reigning POY, is having another strong statistical season for undefeated South Fayette. Brumbaugh's won-loss record the past two years is 18-1.
Ringgold running Derrick Fiore has 1,005 rushing yards to go with 12 touchdowns. Fiore averages nearly nine yards per carry and is capable of a big play at any moment, as his 60-yard touchdown run in Friday's 24-13 win against Franklin Regional demonstrated. Fiore is also a candidate for the All-Keystone Conference team as a safety. Oh, and Ringgold just wrapped up its first conference title since 2000 and is 8-0 for the first time.
When healthy, Trinity senior Kyle McWreath is a menacing two-way player. As the Hillers' fullback, McWreath gets limited opportunity to run but he makes big plays when he does. As a middle linebacker, I haven't seen a better one this year.
One player who placed himself on the short list this past week is Ringgold junior quarterback Quad Law. Statistically speaking, Law doesn't stack up against Brumbaugh or Fiore but there's no disputing his impact. Law makes a one-yard run look like a work of art and has the knack for clutch plays.* After seeing Thomas Jefferson two weeks ago and Ringgold on Friday, a possible playoff matchup between the two seems awfully intriguing.
Ringgold has an advantage in speed and athleticism. Thomas Jefferson is stronger up front. If I was a betting man, my money would be on Thomas Jefferson because of the "been there, done that" factor.
* If Ringgold beats Uniontown to finish the regular season with a 9-0 record, the guess here is the Rams will receive the No. 4 seed or 5 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Here are a few reasons why:
1. Ringgold may have a tradition but the Rams haven't accomplished anything the past 10 years.
2. Montour and Thomas Jefferson look like locks for the top two seeds. A two-loss West Allegheny is the defending WPIAL champion and a strong team.
3. It's the Keystone Conference. Granted, Ringgold and Franklin Regional have made the conference better but until teams from the Keystone regularly win playoff games, teams from conferences like the Parkway will draw better seeds.
* Peters Township is a senior-dominated team that entered the season with high expectations. The Indians wanted to win the Great Southern Conference and host a playoff game. Those goals can no longer be achieved.
Now, the only way Peters Township can get into the playoffs for the first time at the Class AAAA level is to beat rival Canon-McMillan in Week 9. The Big Macs are winless in conference play but they are certainly playing better football now than they were early in the year.
* As important as that game is to Peters Township, the biggest Week 9 game from a local perspective looks like Chartiers-Houston at Fort Cherry.
The Bucs are 7-1 and their lone loss in the Black Hills Conference is to Clairton. A win over their biggest rival gives them an 8-1 record, a home playoff game and a seed anywhere from six to eight.
Fort Cherry has lost conference games to Brentwood and Clairton but the Rangers have an opportunity to finish second in the conference with a win. Since an overtime loss to Brentwood, the Rangers are playing some of their best football in recent years. Part of that stretch includes a five-touchdown loss to Clairton, which, by some accounts, was a competitive game despite the score.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Fort Cherry has the talent to win a playoff game, maybe even make a mini-postseason run. A win against Chartiers-Houston gets that going.