South Allegheny, Steel Valley to face off in Century battle
TribLIVE Sports Videos
For many teams, qualifying for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs is no big deal. It's expected year in and year out.
Some teams make early bus reservations for a trip to Heinz Field for the WPIAL title game or hotel reservations in Hershey for the PIAA finals on Dec. 14-15.
At South Allegheny (6-1, 5-1) however, there has never been a bus trip to Heinz Field. Or Three Rivers Stadium. And the state championships didn't even exist the last time the Gladiators made the district tournament in 1986.
The team did win the 1977 WPIAL title before the games were played at a professional stadium.
Now, as the playoff-bound Gladiators prepare for Century Conference rival Steel Valley (4-3, 4-2), they have to vaccinate themselves up against a contagion that creeps into postseason locker rooms and infects the players at this time of the year.
“(Making the playoffs) was a welcome accomplishment and they certainly appreciate the accomplishment that they have achieved,” South Allegheny coach Pat Monroe said. “But I think, like every competitive team, that was a temporary accomplishment and they're moving toward the next level and the next goal.”
South Allegheny has won six consecutive games and, as a result, the next goal could be a share of the Century Conference title if South Allegheny can extend that streak to eight with victories against Steel Valley (4-3, 4-2) on Friday and South Fayette (7-0, 6-0) in Week 9. The Gladiators have not won a championship of any kind since taking the 1986 Three Rivers Conference title, but they will be hard-pressed to close out the season with wins against a team in striking distance of qualifying for the playoffs and another that could conceivably end up with the top seed in the tournament.
“We've got two games left on our schedule and both are good teams,” Monroe said. “We still have the goal of winning the conference championship, and you have to win the next one to do it.”
Steel Valley has yet to clinch a spot in the postseason, but only needs a win in one of its final two games, against South Allegheny or at home against McGuffey, to lock up a berth. The Ironmen had a rough spate in the middle of the season with losses to South Fayette, Seton-La Salle and West Allegheny, but have rebounded well and are poised to extend their season.
“We're just looking at it as another conference game,” Steel Valley coach Rod Steele said. “They're a quality opponent, and we're getting ready for it like it's just another regular season game. It's not like this is a playoff game They're a good football team, our kids know they're a good football team, they know they're a good football team and we just have to go out and play the game.”
Unlike South Allegheny, which has been reasonably injury free this season, Steel Valley lost a couple of key cogs to its defense when senior defensive end Richard Brooks (ACL) went down against South Fayette and junior linebacker Ajan Smith (labrum/vertebrae) was knocked out in the loss to Seton-La Salle.
“The depth is an issue we've had to deal with as a staff,” Steele said. “But all we can do is to put the kids in there, coach them up and still be competitive. Even in the games we lost, we've still been competitive.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161 ext. 1977.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates
- Penguins recall Maatta in time for season opener in Dallas
- New-look Steelers secondary is gaining some cohesion
- Armstrong County Jail warden resigns
- FBI, other authorities serve search warrant on methadone clinic near Uniontown
- Pirates notebook: Tempers boil after Arrieta beaned
- Grandparents’ bids for child custody imperiled
- Penguins are hoping their days of drama are finally behind them
- Doom and gloom at Bucs wild-card loss
- LaBar: One of the best wrestling events ever
- Police looking for man who sexually assaulted Squirrel Hill woman