Breaking down the 2015 WPIAL football playoffs |

Breaking down the 2015 WPIAL football playoffs

Chris Harlan
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Central Valley's Deante Bradley fends off Chartiers Valley's Dominic Pocci during the second quarter Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Center.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills' Miles Sanders carries for a first down in the second quarter against Mt. Lebanon on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, at the Wolvarena.
Jim Ference | Trib Total Media
Belle Vernon's quarterback Mike Fine runs for a 43-yard touchdown against Elizabeth Forward on Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, at Elizabeth Forward.
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
Clairton’s Lamont Wade (38) breaks a tackle by Jeannette's Jefferson Jones en route to a second-quarter touchdown Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, at Jeannette.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
South Fayette running back Hunter Hayes eludes Steel Valley's Eliisha Hughes in the third quarter Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Munhall.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
Fox Chapel's Michael Snowball celebrates after kicking the team's first goal during the play-off game against Kiski Area at Penn Hills Middle School on Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.

Here’s a look at the WPIAL football playoff pairings:

Class AAAA

Favorite: Woodland Hills has the best backfield tandem in the WPIAL with seniors Miles Sanders and Jo-El Shaw, who both are 1,000-yard rushers this season. The Wolverines have reached Heinz Field in four of the past six years.

Challengers: Pine-Richland could defend its WPIAL title with sophomore QB Philip Jurkovec, a 1,900-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher. Penn-Trafford QB Brett Laffoon, a 1,500-yard passer, led the Warriors to the semis in 2013 and ’14. Central Catholic, last year’s runner-up, has a recruit-heavy defense led by senior defensive back Damar Hamlin. North Allegheny shared the Quad North title with Pine-Richland and Central. Lebo’s only loss was at Woodland Hills, 21-17. McKeesport lost at Penn-Trafford, 21-7.

Don’t overlook: Bethel Park’s three losses were against highly-seeded playoff teams: Central Catholic (28-12), Woodland Hills (28-23) and Mt. Lebanon (31-20).

Prediction: Penn-Trafford over Central Catholic

Class AAA

Favorite: Defending champion Central Valley proved its status as the favorite when it downed Parkway Conference rival West Allegheny in the regular-season finale. CV senior Chris Callaghan has thrown for 1,500 yards this season.

Challengers: Belle Vernon was atop the Big 10 Conference as the only undefeated team in Class AAA. However, the Leopards haven’t won a playoff game since 2000. West Allegheny was No. 1 all season until Friday’s loss. The Indians feature 1,100-yard rusher Terence Stephens, a Bowling Green recruit. The past six Class AAA champions have come from the Parkway, along with four of the past six runners-up. Ringgold and Thomas Jefferson reached the semifinals last season. Mars has won six in a row since a loss at Franklin Regional, the second seed from the Greater Allegheny.

Don’t overlook: First-year school Armstrong features the WPIAL’s top rusher: Zane Dudek with 2,019 yards. In 2010, Central Valley won a WPIAL title in its first season after a merger.

Prediction: West Allegheny over Central Valley

Class AA

Favorite: South Fayette has won 41 consecutive games and beat Aliquippa two years in a row at Heinz Field. The Lions have a new quarterback ­— sophomore Drew Saxton (1,074 yards and 22 touchdowns).

Challengers: Aliquippa tied a WPIAL record set by Braddock (1954-59) with its sixth consecutive undefeated regular season. Pitt recruit Kaezon Pugh leads the Quips with 17 TDs. Washington, which has a 1,100-yard rusher in Kurt Adkins, is strong but hasn’t received as much attention as the other undefeated teams. Beaver Falls, which starts just two seniors, was unbeaten until last week’s loss to Aliquippa. Freeport won the Allegheny title, but a 34-7 loss to Steel Valley leaves questions. SV and 1,100-yard rusher DeWayne Murray lost to South Fayette, 37-0.

Don’t overlook: Apollo-Ridge junior Duane Brown scored 15 times in the final two weeks and set a WPIAL single-game rushing record with 460 yards on 45 carries in Week 8. He makes the Vikings a tough matchup.

Prediction: South Fayette over Aliquippa

Class A

Favorite: Clairton has won seven of the past nine WPIAL Class A titles, and the Bears had only one opponent come within 35 points of them this season. Aaron Mathews ranks third among WPIAL passers with 1,805 yards and has thrown 22 touchdowns.

Challengers: CWNC is unbeaten behind first-year coach Jason Gildon and 1,200-yard passer Erick Taylor. The Trojans won the title in ’13. Avonworth QB Zach Chandler leads the WPIAL with 2,815 yards, but the Lopes lost by 12 to CWNC in Week 7. Frazier allowed a WPIAL-low 31 points all season but hails from a conference that hasn’t won a playoff game in four seasons. Shenango won the Big Seven but lost nonconference matchups to CWNC (28-16) and Avonworth (28-20). Jeannette was the closest to Clairton, losing 56-29 in Week 6.

Don’t overlook: Neshannock reached the WPIAL semis last season and forced Clairton into OT. The Lancers, with 1,500-yard passer Frank Antuono, have won seven in a row since an early-season loss to Shenango.

Prediction: Clairton over CWNC

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.