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November 4, 2009

Class AA: A grand finale for Center?

TOP FOUR SEEDS: South Fayette, Mount Pleasant, Center, and Beaver Falls.

SLATE: This Friday's first round games, all at 7:30 p.m.

No. 16 Beaver (5-4) at No. 1 South Fayette (9-0)
No. 9 Aliquippa (8-1) at No. 8 McGuffey (7-2)

No. 13 Steel Valley (6-3) at No. 4 Beaver Falls (8-1)
No. 12 Sto-Rox (7-2) at No. 5 Shady Side Academy (8-1)

No. 15 Kittanning (6-3) at No. 2 Mount Pleasant (9-0)
No. 10 Burrell (7-2) at No. 7 Keystone Oaks (8-1)

No. 14 Washington (6-3) at No. 3 Center (8-1)
No. 11 Greensburg Central Catholic (7-2) at No. 6 Freeport (8-1)


FAVORITE: South Fayette
It wasn't always an easy road this season, playing in the highly competitive Century Conference, but South Fayette managed to finish the year unblemished. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, South Fayette got the nod for the top seed due to the strength of its schedule in the conference, playing fellow playoff teams No. 7 Keystone Oaks and No. 12 Sto-Rox, and a very competitive Seton-LaSalle team. QB Christian Brumbaugh is the third-highest passer in all of the WPIAL, throwing for 23 touchdowns on the year and approaching 1,500 yards. RB Jeff Davis had four rushing touchdowns on Saturday in the regular-season finale against Bishop Canevin.

SLEEPER: Aliquippa
Top-seeded South Fayette couldn't have been pleased at all to see an 8-1 Aliquippa team in its bracket. Aliquippa is seeded ninth after finishing in a three-way tie atop the Midwestern Athletic Conference standings, but was third in the tie-breakers. The Quips' lone loss of the year came at the hands of Beaver Falls, and the perennial playoff contenders look poised to make another run this year.

SURPRISE PICK: Both No. 1 South Fayette and No. 2 Mount Pleasant lose in second round.
As mentioned previously, Aliquippa is fully capable of knocking out South Fayette, and a very strong Keystone Oaks squad is talented enough to dispose of a Mount Pleasant team that comes out of the admittedly weaker Interstate Conference.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Paul Jones, Sto-Rox
The senior quarterback and Penn State recruit has battled an ankle injury all season. When Jones is healthy, he is capable of leading his team to convincing wins. But when struggling, the team around him struggles as well. Jones wasn't fully healthy against South Fayette earlier this year, and South Fayette rolled to a 35-20 win.

PREDICTION: Center over Beaver Falls.
Bad news for Beaver Falls as it loses its second straight year to a conference rival at Heinz Field. Last year it was Aliquippa; this year it'll be Center, which will win the WPIAL title in its final year of existence. (Class AA Center and Class A Monaca are merging next year to form Central Valley.)


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