Guido: Area teams get ready for WPIAL football playoffs
Five local teams are getting set for the opening round of the WPIAL football playoffs Friday night.
Two of the teams — Kittanning and Highlands — will be playing on their home fields, while Apollo-Ridge, Valley and Kiski Area all will take to the road in the hopes of finding the way to Heinz Field for the WPIAL finals Nov. 23.
Let's set up Friday's playoff matchups.
Class A: Apollo-Ridge at Beth-Center: The two teams have played twice in the past — long ago.
The Vikings defeated Beth-Center, 9-0, in 1969, Apollo-Ridge's first season. The Bulldogs then won a 20-13 decision in 1970.
The Bethlehem-Center School District was formed in 1958 by way of a merger between Centerville, Bethlehem Joint and West Bethlehem Township high schools serving mid-Washington County.
Class AA: Yough at Kittanning. This will be Kittanning's first home playoff game since 2001 when the Wildcats lost to Blackhawk in double overtime.
Yough High School resulted from a 1969 merger between Sewickley Area, South Huntingdon and West Newton high schools.
Both schools are looking for some playoff success.
Kittanning's only playoff win was in 1975 over Union Area. Yough has experienced first-round eliminations seven previous times.
Kittanning has won all four regular season games against Yough.
Class AA: Valley at Mount Pleasant: The only playoff meeting between the two schools was in 1996 when Mount Pleasant won at Valley, 35-21.
The Mount Pleasant School District was formed in 1961 via a merger between Hurst and Ramsay high schools.
Class AAA: New Castle at Highlands: The Golden Rams nearly upset heavily favored New Castle in the 1982 first round before falling 27-19. The following year, the Red Hurricanes had little trouble, winning 28-0.
Class AAAA: Kiski Area at Upper St. Clair. You don't have to go back very far to find a playoff game between the two schools. Upper St. Clair won handily 49-0 last season.
There is an abundance of familiar faces in this year's postseason.
Aliquippa is in the playoffs for the 32nd time in the last 34 seasons. The Quips also hold the record for most titles with 15.
Aliquippa and Thomas Jefferson also extended their record for most consecutive playoff trips. The Quips and the Jaguars are in the WPIAL postseason for the 19th consecutive season.
Upper St. Clair is in the playoffs for the 27th time in the last 28 seasons. The only time that USC fell short was in 1999.
Representatives from West Shamokin and Summit Academy attended their first WPIAL playoff pairings meeting Monday.
Avella is in the playoffs for the first time since 1976 when the Eagles lost the WPIAL title game to Western Beaver.
One notable team missing from the playoff field is Rochester.
The Rams had been in the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons but finished 2-7 this year.
Jeannette is also out with the PIAA restoring Washington's victories following an appeal of the WPIAL ruling that mandated five forfeits for using an ineligible player.
The Jayhawks had made the playoffs 18 of the last 19 seasons. At 4-5, it was only the second losing season for Jeannette since 1968.
Locally, Springdale (3-6) is out of the playoffs after 11 straight appearances. But with some underclassmen blossoming, the Dynamos don't figure to be down for long.
George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.