South Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward set to make return to postseason
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It was like homecoming for Pat Monroe when he walked into the WPIAL football pairings meeting at the Doubletree Hotel in Green Tree on Monday.
He chatted and shook hands with many of the other coaches in attendance, shared a few laughs and waited patiently as his South Allegheny (7-2) squad was officially added to the Class AA bracket for the first time since 1986.
“That's a reward for our kids that they have achieved something and I liked the way the (WPIAL) celebrated the success of the efforts of, not only the players, but the coaching staffs and everyone involved in this process,” Monroe said. “We were very fortunate to have something of this magnitude to celebrate how much collective effort everyone put into the success of these young men.”
For Monroe, it was not only a night to celebrate the Gladiators ending a 26-year postseason drought, but also a personal triumph. He had not been to the pairings meeting since 2006 when he walked in as the coach of defending WPIAL Class A champion Duquesne in the Dukes final season.
“It's hard to separate the individual from group that you represent, but it's nice to be around your colleagues and they recognize the effort that you put in,” Monroe said. “The emphasis that we've had since we've been there has been to help bring this school district up to this level. … And, yes, there is some satisfaction. I was fortunate to coach at a school district that was able to do that on a regular basis, and sometimes you might take that for granted, and then you see what it takes to get there and it makes it all the more fulfilling.”
Elizabeth Forward coach Mike LeDonne had not been to the pairings meeting since he attended as the defensive coordinator for Clairton in 2009, the year the Bears began their current 56-game winning streak and won their first state championship. But coming down this year representing the Warriors — his alma mater — after guiding the team to its first postseason berth since 2005 was extra special.
“I'm excited to be back and try to help them to be an every-year playoff contender,” LeDonne said. “There weren't a lot of people that thought we could do it and we said that we were here to make the playoffs. Period. And it just happened faster than we thought it would.”
As the third-place finisher out of the Big 9 Conference, Elizabeth Forward (6-3), the No. 9 seed, will travel to No. 8 Franklin Regional (7-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. The last time the Warriors qualified for the postseason was also the same year the Panthers won their only WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA titles.
“You never know who you're going to get, and the bottom line is Franklin Regional is a good football team and they were the No. 1 rated team coming into the season this year,” LeDonne said. “This is a great time for our kids to step up and see what we got.”
Ironically, South Allegheny will get the only other Westmoreland County team to win a state championship as the Gladiators were dealt the No. 13 seed and will travel to McKee Stadium to play No. 4 Jeannette (8-1). The Gladiators have not won a postseason game since a 14-0 victory against Burgettstown in the 1986 quarterfinals.
“It's a great thing because Jeannette is a seasoned, veteran operation with a lot of scrappy kids that know what it takes to get the job done,” Monroe said. “That's playoff football. That's beautiful. And you don't have to get everyone excited to play Jeannette because they'll already be pumped up.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161, ext. 1977.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defense takes aim at Ravens QB Flacco
- Penn Hills man arrested in fatal Elliott home invasion
- Penguins GM Rutherford: Malkin’s play belies fact he missed training camp
- Evaporating cap on Pa. gasoline taxes to offset drops at pump
- High school football roundup: No. 13 Riverside upsets Beth-Center in 1st round
- Steelers notebook: Ravens enter short-handed at tight end
- Young leads Pitt’s new-look lineup past IUP in exhibition opener
- Attorney General Kane injured in auto accident
- Armstrong trying new program to have instruction when weather closes schools
- Coastal Division lead within reach for Panthers
- Nude photos of Penn Hills High School students spur investigation