Who will survive in 2nd season?
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The WPIAL football playoffs get under way tonight with five area teams setting their sights on making a run to Heinz Field.
Coaches preach to their teams all during summer camp that the hard work they put in now will pay off in November.
Well, welcome to November Monessen, Belle Vernon Area, Ringgold, Frazier and Elizabeth Forward.
Congratulations for an exciting regular season and moving on to the second season.
On paper, four of the five teams look to be underdogs in the first round.
Only Monessen (8-1), a fifth seed in the Class A playoffs, plays the role as favorite as the Greyhounds take on Apollo-Ridge (6-3) at Charleroi Stadium.
Another team, Elizabeth Forward (6-3) is a ninth seed going up against eighth-seeded Franklin Regional (7-2), which makes the game as close to a toss-up as possible.
Another intriguing game has BV Area (4-5), a wild card entry in AAA, going to Central Valley (7-2). With CV playing without its three biggest offensive stars, the Leps may not be the decided underdog it would seem they are.
Well, here goes:
• Apollo-Ridge (6-3) vs Monessen (8-1) at Charleroi. The Greyhounds have a lot of firepower and will undoubtedly use the snub of a fifth seed as motivation. The defense, after looking shaky at times earlier in the season, has been solid the last couple of games, which certainly complements an explosive offense led by playmakers Chavas Rawlins, Clintell Gillaspie, Javon Brown and Irvin Green. Playing on the turf at Charleroi should make the Greyhounds look a little quicker. However, the secondary has to be poised for an air show from A-R quarterback Jesse Zelonka. Monessen, 34-14.
• Frazier (7-2) vs Clairton (9-0) at BV Area. The Commodores have won four straight games, including handing Beth-Center its only loss of the season and their reward is a first round game against four-time champion Clairton. It just doesn't seem fair, does it. Clairton, 54-7.
• BVA (4-5) at Central Valley (7-2). With WR Robert Foster (17 TDs), QB Nathan Climo (9 TD passes) and RB Jordan Whitehead (12 TDs) out of the lineup, the Warriors' offense is missing 38 TDs. That's a lot to lose. Plus, in its previous playoff endeavors under coach Aaron Krepps, the Leps have lost by an average margin of 6.3 ppg. Look for much of the same here in another tough loss. Central Valley, 17-14.
• Ringgold (4-5) at West Allegheny (8-1). It's not very often a team closes the regular season with three consecutive losses and qualifies for the playoffs, but that's what the Rams did. A healthy Ringgold team would still struggle with West Allegheny. And I'm not sure Ringgold is very healthy. West Allegheny, 35-21.
• Elizabeth Forward (6-3) at Franklin Regional (7-2). EF has two foes to deal with in this game - the Panthers' stingy defense and the Warriors' playoff jitters. If EF stays in the game early, this one could be a nail-biter. Franklin Regional, 17-7.
Last week: 8-1. Season record: 62-14.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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