Top seeds - 1. Pittsburgh Central Catholic (9-0), 2. Mt. Lebanon (9-0), 3. North Hills (8-1), 4. McKeesport (8-1)
Players to watch - Bre' Ford (Bethel Park), Luke Hagy (Mt. Lebanon), Austin Hancock (Peters Township), Damion Jones-Moore (PCC), Sam Gooden (McKeesport), Alex Papson (North Allegheny), Lafayette Pitts (Woodland Hills), Manny Simpson (Penn-Trafford)
Best game - No. 11 Penn Hills at No. 6 Upper St. Clair
Defending champion - Woodland Hills
Sleeper - No. 7 Woodland Hills
Bits and pieces - Peters Township is in the Class AAAA playoffs for the first time. ... Papson averages 10 yards per carry for North Allegheny - Peters Township's first-round opponent. ... Woodland Hills, the preseason favorite, is finally healthy and the Wolverines have won five straight, including back-to-back shuouts over Pine-Richland and Penn Hills.
Prediction - Pittsburgh Central Catholic over Woodland Hills
Top seeds - 1. Montour (9-0), 2. Thomas Jefferson (8-1), 3. Ringgold (9-0), 4. Mars (8-1)
Players to watch - Chad Barton (Hollidaysburg), Dylan Bongiorni (West Allegheny), Julian Durden (Montour), Derrick Fiore (Ringgold), Michael Kizzie (Greensburg-Salem), Quad Law (Ringgold), Kyle McWreath (Trinity), Austin Miele (Mars), Rushel Shell (Hopewell)
Best game - No. 14 Central Valley at No. 3 Ringgold
Defending champion - West Allegheny
Sleeper - No. 10 Hopewell
Bits and pieces - Few teams enter the playoffs hotter than Hopewell, winners of four straight including Central Valley and West Allegheny, and no player is hotter than Shell. The closest thing to a household name in the WPIAL, the junior is already third on the WPIAL's all-time rushing list. ... Ringgold is 9-0 for the first time and the Rams are trying to win their first WPIAL title since 1982. ... Thomas Jefferson has not lost to WPIAL competition.
Championship - Thomas Jefferson over Montour
Top seeds - 1. Aliquippa (9-0), 2. Greensburg Central Catholic (9-0), 3. South Fayette (9-0), 4. Ford City (9-0)
Players to watch - Christian Brumbaugh (South Fayette), Jeff Davis (South Fayette), Mikal Hall (Aliquippa), Trey Hall (Beaver Falls), Kevin Hart (Seton-La Salle), Matt McCann (Keystone Oaks), Bernie Sarra (Greensburg Central Catholic), Delrece Williams (Steel Valley)
Best game - No. 10 Steel Valley at No. 7 Beaver Falls
Defending champion - Greensburg Central Catholic
Sleeper - No. 9 Beaver
Bits and pieces - Both of Beaver's losses came in overtime. The Bobcats were tied with Aliquippa and Beaver Falls at the end of regulation. ... Ellwood City - South Fayette's first-round opponent - is seeded 14th, two spots behind Mt. Pleasant. Ellwood City won at Mt. Pleasant, 35-0, earlier in the season. ... Ford City is seeded fourth but the Sabers only played three teams with a winning record. ... Deer Lakes is in the playoffs for the first time.
Prediction - South Fayette over Beaver
Top seeds - 1. Clairton (9-0), 2. Rochester (9-0), 3. Avonworth (8-1), 4. Monessen (8-1)
Players to watch - Nick Bolias (Monessen), Dakota Conway (California), Desimon Green (Clairton), Daniel Lis (Chartiers-Houston), Gary Kiefer (Fort Cherry), Martin Long (North Catholic), Zach Mundell (Carmichaels), Josh Page (Clairton), Jeff Tarley (Beth-Center), Chris Walko (Bishop Canevin)
Best game - No. 13 Chartiers-Houston at No. 4 Monessen
Defending champion - Clairton
Sleeper - No. 11 North Catholic
Bits and pieces - North Catholic won at Monessen and lost by a touchdown to Avonworth. If the Trojans beat Sto-Rox in the first round, they could draw the Antelopes in the quarters. ... The top three teams (Avonworth, Springdale and Bishop Canevin) from the Eastern Conference are all 8-1. Bishop Canevin plays at Fort Cherry, which is 5-4. ... Clairton is the prohibitive favorite. ... The Bears and Rochester are the only undefeated teams in the Class A pairings but there are no teams with a losing record in the bracket.
Championship - Clairton over Rochester