Schoolboy pick of week: Brentwood
When is just winning a football game not enough?
When you play in the WPIAL and the possibility of a three-way tie brings in the old Gardner Points System.
That will be the case Friday night when California Area (4-4, 4-4) hosts Brentwood (5-4, 5-3) in a Black Hills Conference finale with a lot on the line.
The Spartans need to win the game to clinch a playoff berth.
California needs a little more.
The Trojans have to win by at least 10 points and hope that Fort Cherry knocks off Chartiers-Houston.
Under the latter scenario, California Area, Brentwood and C-H would all be 5-4 in the conference and California would get the spot based on more Gardner points.
That's a lot of pressure to put on a team.
You would think there is enough pressure just to win the game, let alone beat a 10-point spread.
It is really interesting just that these two teams are where they are right now.
At the start of the season, Brentwood was the team that many observers felt would be the one that snapped Clairton's win streak and take the conference.
California Area was coming off a 2-7 season its first year in the conference. “Nobody used the words “California” and “playoffs” in the same sentence.
But under the guidance of first-year coach Bob Teets, the Trojans have become relevant in one of the toughest conferences in Class A.
What is being lost in the fuss of Gardner points and playoff talk is that if California just wins the game, the Trojans will have a winning record. And I bet very few people ever thought that would happen when the WPIAL announced two years ago it was moving California and Monessen into the loaded conference.
Brentwood has one of the better passing attacks in the WPIAL with quarterback Connor McWilliams and that will present a problem for the Trojans.
A Senior Night crowd will pump up the Trojans.
Inclement weather could be an equalizer, but in the end the Spartans have a little more experience on this stage.
Regardless, the Trojans have taken great strides.
The pick: Brentwood, 28-21.
Best of the rest
•Albert Gallatin at BV Area: The Senior Night crow will go home happy from Jim Weir Stadium and think about a long playoff trip next week. Pick: BV Area, 35-14.
•Ringgold at Trinity: The Rams are scoring points in bunches and that will continue into the post-season. Pick: Ringgold, 48-7.
•Carlynton at Monessen. Greyhounds could use a 10-point win themselves. They will get it. Pick: Monessen, 34-7.
•Charleroi at Brownsville. Who will actually win a conference game on the field? And the winner is ... Charleroi, 35-14.
•Southmoreland at Yough. Depending on the PIAA ruling in the Washington case, this game could mean second place and a home game for the Cougars. Pick: Yough, 38-24.
•Frazier at Mapletown. The Maples could actually make the playoffs with a win over the Commodores. Uh, no. Pick: Frazier, 41-14.
•Elizabeth Forward at Greensburg Salem. Warriors get ready for the playoffs. Pick: EF, 28-13.
•Bentworth at Avella. Tough season comes to an end for the Bearcats. Pick: Avella, 42-14.
Last week: 9-0. Season record: 64-6.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.