WPIAL pairings: No surprises
GREEN TREE - There weren't many surprises when the WPIAL released its brackets for the 2011 football playoffs.
Ringgold (7-2) and Monessen (6-3) are getting their home games and playing teams their coaches expected they would.
Belle Vernon Area (4-5), Frazier (6-3) and California (7-2) all drew tough road assignments.
And now, let the fun begin.
In Class AAA, the Rams received the eighth seed and will host ninth-seeded Highlands (7-2) at Joe Montana Stadium.
BVA garnered the 15th seed and will travel to unbeaten No. 2 seed Franklin Regional (9-0).
In Class A, the eighth-seeded Greyhounds will once again host ninth seed Springdale (7-2).
California (7-2), which is seeded 12th, travels to Avonworth (8-1) and Frazier (6-3) got the 15th seed and a date at No. 2 Sto-Rox (9-0).
Ringgold coach Matt Humbert had no complaints coming out of the meeting, saying his team was slotted about where he felt it would be and, "We had our opponent narrowed to two teams and (Highlands) was one of them."
Humbert said he isn't up to speed on the Golden Rams' personnel yet, but did note, "They have a stingy defense."
The teams have two common opponents and each had contrasting results.
For example, each played Hampton and while Hampton dropped Ringgold, 21-14, in the second week of the season, Highlands beat Hampton handily, 37-15, last week.
However, Ringgold drilled Derry, 44-7, and Highlands just nipped the Trojans, 13-12.
"You never know what's going to happen in the playoff," Humbert added. "We're just happy to be playing another week in the WPIAL."
If the Rams win, they would in all probability get a rematch of last year's playoff meeting with Central Valley, the defending WPIAL champion.
"One game at a time," Humbert said, smiling. "I haven't even thought about that yet."
With BVA getting Keystone Conference champ Franklin Regional, will Lep coach Aaron Krepps be seeking out Humbert for advice?
"I already talked to him at the (pairings) meeting," said Krepps, who went back to the high school to break down film with his coaching staff.
"They are a tremendous football team," Krepps said of the Panthers. "It's going to be a challenge, that's for sure. But we are excited."
Monessen coach Andy Pacak had little doubt in his mind going into the meeting that the Greyhounds would draw Springdale.
"It's our annual date with them," Pacak said with a chuckle. "They should just put it on the schedule the 10th week every year."
The Greyhounds and Dynamos have met five times in the WPIAL playoffs since 2003 with Springdale winning every encounter. Worse yet, for Monessen, three of those five losses were at Memorial Stadium.
Last year, Springdale beat Monessen, 30-6, in a quarterfinal contest at Penn-Trafford.
Pacak isn't expecting an easy time of it Friday, either.
"They only lost to Avonworth by one point and to Bishop Canevin by six points," Pacak said. "They were pretty good last year and they have a bunch of people back from that team."
However, he isn't counting out his team, either.
"I have faith in us," he said. "We're going to band together everyone we have and we will show up."
BRACKETMANIA - All first round games will be played 7:30 p.m. Friday night -- For the first time in 13 years, Thomas Jefferson wasn't among the top four seeds in Class AAA -- Humbert said that his quarterback, Quad Law, "is 100 percent" healthy for the playoffs -- The winner of the Monessen-Springdale game will, in all likelihood, get top-seed Clairton in the quarterfinals -- Monessen playoff tickets will be sold 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Wednesday at the high school, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at the stadium press box and in the middle school office 2-4 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to noon Friday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students.