Three things to watch in district football
As the season winds toward the finish line, there remains plenty at stake for teams around the district.
Here’s a look at what to keep an eye on this weekend:
Biggest test for Slippery Rock
Despite zooming to the top of the always-tough PSAC West with an unbeaten conference record, The Rock hasn’t garnered a whole lot of respect nationally, remaining outside the top 25 in the latest AFCA poll.
Slippery Rock (9-1) gets its shot at a national ranking and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs when it hosts ninth-ranked PSAC East champ West Chester (9-0) on Saturday afternoon.
Both offenses are explosive. Both defenses are stingy. The key for Slippery Rock will be third downs.
The Golden Rams led the PSAC with 41 sacks and in opponent third-down conversion rate (24.4 percent), so The Rock offense will need to avoid third-and-long situations. On defense, SRU will have to get off the field as West Chester led the conference in time of possession (34:12).
PAC foes down to wire
Washington & Jefferson and Case Western Reserve enter the final weekend of the regular season with identical 7-1 records in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Because W&J beat the Spartans earlier this season, the Presidents get the PAC’s automatic bid to the Division III playoffs if the teams finished tied.
So even with a loss, W&J still gets the bid if Case Western also loses.
The Presidents play at Waynesburg. The Yellow Jackets (4-5, 4-4) have been sound defensively, but their offense hasn’t scored more than 24 points in a game this season. That isn’t likely to cut it against Jacob Adams, Andrew Wolf and Co.
Case Western hosts Carnegie Mellon (4-4, 3-4). Spartans QB Drew Saxton (South Fayette) needs 298 yards passing to reach 3,000 for the season. He averages 300.2 per game.
Milestone for Allegheny?
The Gators don’t have anything to play for with regard to the postseason. But a home win over Oberlin (2-7, 2-6 NCAC) will clinch the program’s first winning record since 2010.
Allegheny enters at 5-3 in the NCAC, already guaranteeing a winning mark in the conference for the first time since 2012. A victory over Oberlin would give the Gators a 6-4 overall record.
The game will be the last for a couple of Allegheny stalwarts with WPIAL roots: RB Tyler Balla, from New Kensington via Greensburg Central Catholic, needs 91 yards for his first collegiate 1,000-yard season; and DL Marcus Davenport (Valley), who has six sacks this season.
Charles Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.