Kittanning, West Shamokin, Apollo-Ridge set for 1st-round matchups

| Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 12:24 a.m.

Kittanning coach Frank Fabian and his staff emerged from Monday night's WPIAL playoff pairings meeting at the Green Tree DoubleTree Hotel with a pleasant surprise.

The Wildcats are seeded third in Class AA bracket.

Speculation existed that Kittanning, the Allegheny Conference champion, would get a fourth, fifth, or even a sixth seed in the playoffs, which begin Friday night.

Kittanning (9-0) will play Yough (5-4) at 7:30 p.m. at Red Ullom Field in opening-round action.

“We didn't understand it when we first saw it,” Fabian said of Kittanning's bracket slot. “My assistant got on his phone and looked up the seedings. We wanted to see who the other Allegheny Conference teams were playing. We were really surprised when we got a three, but we'll take it.”

Yough finished fourth in the Interstate Conference.

Kittanning finished its first undefeated regular season since 1976 with Friday's 28-27 victory at Shady Side Academy.

The Wildcats will be going for their first WPIAL playoff win since defeating Union in the 1975 semifinals.

“We're just ready to play ball,” Fabian said. “These decisions are out of our control. I honestly do not worry about it too much. Our kids are ready, and we're glad we finally know who we're playing.”

Fabian and the Wildcats are happy to be playing at home.

“It means a lot to us,” Fabian said. “In the last couple of weeks, our community support has been picking up. We expect to have a nice crowd on hand, and our kids are excited.”

Kittanning last played a WPIAL playoff home game in 2001, when the Wildcats lost in overtime to Blackhawk.

While Fabian attended his first WPIAL pairings meeting, Monday was the first time anybody from West Shamokin ever appeared at the annual event.

This is the first time the Wolves have made the playoffs, entering as the fourth place team from the Class A Eastern Conference.

“It's a little wild — we felt kind of out of place here at first,” West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said. “It's definitely nice to be here.”

The Wolves (6-3) will visit perennial playoff contender Monessen (8-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Monessen is in the playoffs for eighth straight season and the 31st time overall. Earlier this season, Monessen ended Clairton's 66-game winning streak, the nation's longest at the time.

“They're a great football team, obviously,” McCullough said. “We'll have to be at our best.”

The Wolves are seeded 14th, while Monessen is the No. 3 seed.

Apollo-Ridge is in the playoffs for the second straight year and the 11th time overall. The Vikings (7-2) has the long trip to Fredericktown, to face Tri-County South Conference champ Beth-Center (9-0).

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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