Road to Heinz Field begins with Parkway for Ringgold, Trinity
11/2/2010 3:30 AM
GREEN TREE - When it comes to the first year on the job, the only way things can get better for Ringgold High School football coach Matt Humbert is if the Rams win the WPIAL Class AAA championship at Heinz Field.
Based on Ringgold's seed for the upcoming postseason, which begins Friday, the WPIAL football committee feels the Rams certainly have a chance.
Ringgold, one of 10 undefeated teams in the playoffs, earned the No. 3 seed just behind Montour and Thomas Jefferson, and the Rams host Central Valley Friday night at Joe Montana Stadium. The pairings were released Monday night.
"I feel like this is good for us and good for the Keystone Conference," said Humbert, who owns a career coaching record of 11-0 dating back to two games served as Ringgold's head coach in 2009. "This is a conference that hasn't had a lot of respect and to give us a third seed is a good sign."
The Keystone Conference has won just one WPIAL playoff game the past decade and that came last year courtesy of Uniontown.
Ringgold (9-0) gives the conference a solid opportunity to run the streak to two years, but things won't come easily against Central Valley (6-3), the fourth-place team out of the always-rugged Parkway Conference. Central Valley, a merger this year of Center and Monaca, beat Trinity earlier in the season.
"When you look at the Parkway, year-in and year-out, it is one of the most competitive conferences in the WPIAL," Humbert said. "It's a very good level of football and an exciting opportunity for us to be in the hunt for a championship."
Ringgold isn't the only local school whose road to Heinz Field starts in the Parkway Conference.
Trinity (6-3), the third-place team from the Big Eight, travels to West Allegheny (6-3) to play the defending WPIAL champion, which is seeded fifth.
Hillers coach Ed Dalton, in his final season at Trinity, began working on West Allegheny hours before the pairings meeting.
"I nailed the whole bracket. I had every game," Dalton said. "Obviously, they are a very good football team and an established program but I think it's a great matchup."
Peters Township (5-4) makes its Class AAAA playoff debut as the No. 12 seed. The Indians travel to North Allegheny (8-1), which is coming of its first loss.
"In terms of a challenge, we're going to find out what our boys have," Peters Township coach Nick Milchovich said. "We're going to go up there and see how we stack up against one of the best."
South Fayette has been one of Class AA's best the past two seasons, and the Lions (9-0) earned the No. 3 seed behind Aliquippa and defending champion Greensburg Central Catholic.
As always, Class AA proved the most difficult bracket to pair given the number of quality teams and South Fayette drew one in the first round. Ellwood City (6-3) isn't the typical 14th seed. The Wolverines beat Mount Pleasant by 35 points on the road yet the Vikings were seeded two spots higher.
Perhaps no team in the WPIAL faces a tougher challenge than Carmichaels (6-3).
The Mikes, one of six local teams in the Class A bracket, finished fourth in the Tri-County South Conference and that guaranteed them a first-round game at Clairton (9-0), the prohibitive favorite.
"It's no surprise at all. We're just happy to be there," Carmichaels coach John Menhart said. "We were beat up early and lost three games but we played well to end the year."
Other Class A games include No. 10 Cornell (7-2) at No. 7 Beth-Center (7-2); No 9 Bishop Canevin (8-1) at No. 8 Fort Cherry (5-4); No. 15 California (6-3) at No. 2 Rochester (9-0) and No. 13 Chartiers-Houston (7-2) at No. 4 Monessen (8-1).
The Bucs are coming off a tough 48-40 loss at Fort Cherry, while the Greyhounds are a one-point loss from an undefeated regular season.
"We've played Monessen a couple times since I've been at Chartiers-Houston and there's a familiarity with both teams," Chartiers-Houston coach Terry Fetsko said. "I'm sure they're going to be one of the best teams we've seen in terms of speed and skill."
Bits and pieces
Central Catholic, Montour, Aliquippa and Clairton were given the top seeds. ... At 5-4, Fort Cherry has the worst record of any team in the Class A pairings. ... Only four teams (Bethel Park, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland and West Mifflin) enter the playoffs with losing records.
Football searchable database Copyright Observer Publishing Co.