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Oliver: California needs solid win over Brentwood for playoff shot

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Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

California's only chance to make the WPIAL playoffs hinges on beating Brentwood by at least 10 points Friday night in a Black Hills Conference finale.

If California does that and Fort Cherry beats Chartiers-Houston, then California is in the playoffs and Brentwood will be out.

For the Trojans, it sounds like a tough task. However, when it comes to Brentwood, it has happened once before.

The date was Nov. 7, 1988, and Brentwood traveled to Monessen for a regular-season-ending Eastern Conference game on a cold, misty fall night.

Monessen's only chance of reaching the playoffs was by beating the Spartans by 10 points or more.

Monessen was 6-3 overall and 6-1 in the conference. Brentwood was 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference.

If Monessen could post a double-digit victory, the Greyhounds would qualify for the playoffs and Brentwood would be the odd team out.

In front of a chilled crowd of more than 3,300 fans at Memorial Stadium, Brentwood jumped to a 13-7 halftime lead, making the Greyhounds' hopes even bleaker than when the game started.

The second half, however, was another story.

Mike Bright caught two third quarter touchdown passes from Jason Gigliotti of 23 and 8 yards to give the Greyhounds a 20-13 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The wet crowd was in a frenzy as it sensed an amazing comeback.

When Monessen's Lance Beck bulled his way in from a yard out with 9:48 to go in the game, the Greyhounds led 26-13.

The score remained that way until Monessen took an intentional safety at the end to make the final score 26-15.

The Greyhounds made the playoffs and earned one of the more memorable wins in Scarvel's legendary career.

“Any time you go into a game like this and have to win by 10 points and then do it ... there is a great feeling,” Scarvel said afterward in a jubilant dressing room.

“Personally, there isn't much more that can happen to me in my lifetime. But for the kids, this is worthwhile. This victory will rank up with the best of them and Monessen football has had a lot of great victories over the years.”

If the Trojans can accomplish the same feat on their field in the final game of the regular season, well, wouldn't that be something?

Hey, it can happen.

Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or

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