High school football notebook: Hampton, New Castle bringing rivalry outside
New Castle and Hampton can't seem to avoid one another. But now their basketball rivalry has transitioned to football.
“I had an inkling the WPIAL might enjoy this (matchup),” said New Castle coach Joe Cowart, whose football team visits Hampton for a Class AAA first-round game Friday. “The schools have seen so much of each other in the last couple of years.”
New Castle and Hampton played nine times in the past three basketball seasons with three consecutive WPIAL finals and a state quarterfinal included.
The rivalry drew a sold-out crowd to Palumbo Center last winter for the Class AAAA championship game.
“It's neat to get it on the gridiron and see how it works out there,” Cowart said.
New Castle won nine in a row on the basketball court. But this time the favorite is No. 4 seed Hampton (8-1), which won the Greater Allegheny title. No. 13 New Castle (4-5) was the fourth-place team from the Parkway Conference.
It probably won't be a sellout, but New Castle fans already know the way to Hampton.
“We're close enough to each other that they might get a good draw,” Cowart said, “and it will be exciting to watch.”
Another first-round matchup also has history: No. 7 seed North Allegheny (7-2) and No. 10 Upper St. Clair (4-5) will meet for the 15th time since 2002 in a Class AAAA playoff game. They also met in Week 4 this season, when NA won 31-14.
The teams never shared a conference but have met in 12 of the last 13 seasons. NA has won four of the past five.
Pitt recruit out
Kittanning senior and Pitt recruit Nick Bowers will not play in the WPIAL Class AA first-round game at Aliquippa on Friday, said Wildcats coach Frank Fabian.
The receiver/linebacker has been recovering from a hairline fracture in his leg. Bowers was limited in Kittanning's regular-season finale against Ford City but did catch a touchdown.
He might return this season if No. 15 seed Kittanning advances past No. 2 Aliquippa.
Root Sports will televise live the Class AAA first-round matchup between No. 7 Montour (7-2) and No. 10 Mars (6-3). The Class AAAA matchup of No. 4 Penn Hills (7-2) and No. 13 Plum (5-4) will be available to Comcast Xfinity customers starting Saturday through its on-demand service.
• Aliquippa and Thomas Jefferson reached the WPIAL playoffs for the 20th consecutive season, a WPIAL record. Aliquippa also is in the playoffs for the 38th time overall, leading Jeannette by one appearance.
• Upper St. Clair is in the playoffs for the 28th time in the last 29 years, missing only in 1999.
Matt Grubba and George Guido contributed. Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.