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Guido: Playoff chases heating up for Alle-Kiski Valley football teams

| Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, 11:47 p.m.
Apollo Ridge Alex Gamble looks for room to run in the second quarter at Apollo Ridge against Seton LaSalle.Friday Sept 29, 2017.
Apollo Ridge Alex Gamble looks for room to run in the second quarter at Apollo Ridge against Seton LaSalle.Friday Sept 29, 2017.

With the high school football season in its second half, the playoff picture for Alle-Kiski schools is coming into focus.

A number of schools have key games coming up.

Freeport is the area's only first place team. The Yellowjackets have some crucial games looming but at this point appear to be the only A-K team that has a chance to open the WPIAL playoffs at home.

Here's a look at how things size up right now:

Class 5A

Fox Chapel's victory over Woodland Hills was huge. The Foxes, 2-3 in the Allegheny 9 Conference, have to defeat improving Hampton Friday and hope for a Woodland Hills win over North Hills, then Foxes victories over Baldwin and winless Chartiers Valley to get in.

The top four teams in each conference go to the 5A playoffs.

Plum faces a must-win situation Friday against long-time nemesis Gateway. The Mustangs are 7-22 all time against the Gators, going without a win since 2001.

Plum plays Fox Chapel in a nonconference game Oct. 27. Both schools are hoping that one is a playoff tune-up game.

Class 4A

Highlands, 2-2 in the Northwest 9 Conference, faces Montour (4-1) at home Friday. The Golden Rams have to beat the Spartans and hope owning the tiebreaker against Montour winds up being enough for fourth place.

Class 3A

It's another wild race in the Allegheny Conference where only two teams are guaranteed playoff berths.

Apollo-Ridge, gunning for an area-best sixth straight playoff trip, needs to win at Freeport on Friday.

Freeport, meanwhile, needs to defeat Apollo-Ridge to set up a showdown Oct. 13 against Seton LaSalle. The game will be played at Thomas Jefferson.

It's a shame the game isn't Saturday night so a maximum amount of people can see it. Seton LaSalle doesn't own its own football stadium but has played its home games Saturdays for more than 40 years when its main tenant had a Friday home game such as Mt. Lebanon, Carlynton or Peters Township.

The Yellowjackets return home Oct. 20 to play defending conference champ Keystone Oaks.

Valley needs a victory at Shady Side Academy on Saturday afternoon to stay in contention and set up a possible winner-take-all game Oct. 27 vs. Freeport in New Kensington.

The third-place team has to hope for one of two wild-card berths.

Class 1A

Can Springdale make the playoffs 15 of 16 seasons?

We'll know a lot more over the next three weeks as the Dynamos will go through a buzzsaw against Jeannette at home Friday, at Bishop Canevin on Oct. 14 and at home against Imani Christian on Oct. 20.

Springdale has to win one at least of those three games then win at Greensburg Central Catholic on Oct. 27.

The top five teams from the Eastern Conference make the playoffs, so the Dynamos (2-1) in the conference, have some margin for error.

Burrell, Kiski Area, Deer Lakes, Riverview and Leechburg, while not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, will search for victories whenever the schedule allows the opportunities.

Steelers Name Loughran Top Coach

The Steelers named Fox Chapel coach Tom Loughran as coach of the week for the team's victory over Woodland Hills in Week 2.

He will be honored at the Steelers game Sunday against Jacksonville at Heinz Field.

Loughran has coached football for 42 years, including WPIAL and PIAA titles at South Park. He is closing in on his 200th career win.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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