WPIAL causes buzz by seeding Burgettstown second in deep Class 2A bracket
When the Class 2A bracket appeared on the overhead screen, Mark Druga knew immediately that his phone would start buzzing, so he turned it off.
“I did not want to interrupt the process,” the Burgettstown coach said Monday at the WPIAL pairings meeting. “I didn’t want to be that guy, so I shut the darn thing off.”
When Druga arrived at the DoubleTree in Green Tree, he wasn’t sure whether his coaching staff would receive good news, great news or leave disappointed.
His Blue Devils, who went undefeated this season, could’ve been seeded anywhere among the top six in a deep Class 2A playoff field. When the bracket was revealed, Burgettstown was second.
For Druga, that was great news.
“We were excited to see where we were placed,” said Druga, a fourth-year coach, who predicted his phone would be filled with excited texts. “We were hoping to be in the top four. To see No. 2 gave us such a lift.”
The WPIAL revealed brackets for all six classifications at Monday’s playoff pairings meeting with few big surprises overall. As expected, the No. 1 seeds were awarded to North Allegheny in Class 6A, Gateway in 5A, Thomas Jefferson in 4A, Aliquippa in 3A, Shady Side Academy in 2A and Jeannette in A.
There were a few surprises farther down the brackets, including Mars taking the fourth seed in Class 5A over West Allegheny, a conference champion.
In Class 3A, rivals Aliquippa and Beaver Falls were seeded on the same side of the bracket, while Derry and North Catholic shared the other side. As a result, the 3A semifinals could have a pair of conference rematches.
But overall there was little controversy.
“This is the most comfortable I’ve felt with all six brackets in awhile,” said committee chairman Randy Rovesti, athletic director at Gateway. “I think we can justify anything that we did.”
When the committee assembled the brackets Monday afternoon, Class 2A was debated at length, Rovesti said. Class 2A and 5A are the largest brackets with 16 teams each.
The committee quickly identified undefeated Shady Side Academy as the top seed in Class 2A, but there was debate about who to seed second. Some committee members pushed for one-loss Steel Valley, which finished second in the Allegheny Conference behind Shady Side.
“You have a team that has been there and done that,” Rovesti said of Steel Valley, the 2016 champion and 2017 runner-up. “But Burgettstown was undefeated, so you’ve got to give them their due too.”
Ultimately, the committee chose Burgettstown, which allowed the fewest points in the entire WPIAL: 4.8 per game.
Steel Valley was seeded third, with Charleroi fourth, Mohawk fifth, Washington sixth and Freedom seventh. Charleroi and Washington were co-champions of their conference, as were Mohawk and Freedom, so the committee placed them on opposite sides of the bracket, Rovesti said.
Steel Valley and Washington, the WPIAL finalists last season, could rematch in this year’s quarterfinals.
“This bracket far and away is the most competitive of any of the classifications,” Druga said. “There is no chump in this bracket. They’re all quality teams. I believe any one of them could be playing at Robert Morris this year.”
The Class 2A championship is Nov. 24 at RMU’s Walton Stadium. The Class 5A final is Nov. 23 at Norwin. The Class 6A, 4A, 3A and A finals are Nov. 17 at Heinz Field.
The playoff start Friday.
WPIAL president Scott Seltzer opened the meeting with a moment of silence for the victims of Saturday’s shooting in Squirrel Hill.