Non-Boundary Playoff writeup....Small School classifications (3A, 2A, 1A)

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Here’s what a small school Non-Boundary playoff could look like if the smallest 3 classifications were merged as mentioned in the large school post. Did the usual with some research and thoughts some of you might enjoy.

Non Boundary Group 2-Small Schools Playoff (3A, 2A, 1A)
Selections and Seeds based on year end records and results.

Top 4 bye teams
1 Neumann Goretti 3A 13-2

Out of the rugged Philadelphia Catholic League, Neumann went on a tear after the 28-6 Wood loss game 2 crushing all before the revealing 26-21 win against North Schuylkill (11-2), one of the top 3A programs in the state (130-34 last 14 years), then South Philly (3-6) and Danville (8-5, D4 champ) before losing to Wyomissing’s 15-1 juggernaut in the state semifinal 42-6. Also beat Ryan (6-5), CE (8-3) and Bonner (9-3) along the way for one of the most difficult 3A schedules in the East. The North Schuylkill win shows the Saints are on their way (H/C Albie Crosby 40-5 in his 5 years), while the Wyomissing game shows there’s a way to go yet to be a player at the state level. Here’s a good argument for the top seed based on which argument carries more weight, Neumann playing a more difficult schedule or Scranton Prep playing a more competitive game against Wyomissing without their star running back losing by 21 points vs Neumann losing by 36.
2 Scranton Prep 3A 11-1
Had a serious football team last year returning 8 to both sides with a OL averaging 256 and a great running back that got them the district-2 title with wins against equally veteran Valley View 17-10 (12-2, lost to Shanahan 35-25) and 2019 3A champ Wyoming Area 22-0 (10-2, lost to Southern Columbia 37-30). Came into the semifinal game averaging 42ppg allowing 10 before losing to Wyomissing (15-1) 35-14. Don’t let the margin fool you. This was their best team. But it’s always a bad proposition getting coach Bob Wolfrum’s full attention (309-83-1) as the Cavaliers did with a 11-0 record and star running back London Montgomery (won PIAA 2A gold in 200 meters, 2nd in 100; AZ St, UConn) coming in with 2353 yards rushing. He left the game injured with 7 yards on 3 carries. Head Coach Terry Gallagher took over in 2016 (Prep grad) at age 32 and is building something special going 63-10 in his first 6 years.
3 Serra Catholic 2A 12-2
Here’s a program making a big impact on 2A ball since hiring coach Jose Regus in 2017 with a 38-18 record overall and a 19-3 slate the last 2 years. They capped 2021 with a finals appearance losing to Southern Columbia 62-35. Taking nothing from SCA, there was little left in the tank for Serra following a grueling playoff run against Laurel (11-1) 6-0, Sto-Rox (12-1) 13-12, Beaver Falls (9-4) 35-12, and Farrell (11-1) 27-18 before the Southern game. Against playoff competition, they faced Pa. Football Writers All-State running backs from Farrell’s Anthony Stallworth with 2342ry, Jaymar Pearson of Sto-Rox with 1192ry, Luke McCoy of Laurel with 1805ry and Beaver Falls quarterback Jaren Brickner who finished with 2615py. Against Southern, they were down 28-19 at the end of the 3rd quarter before collapsing (smaller team) under the weight (400ry) of the Tiger attack. Serra’s Qb Max Rocco (18 of 35) threw for 379 yards, mostly short stuff while the ground game was held to negative 75 yards. With no deep ball or running game! Here’s a revealing quote from Coach Roth; “Of the 20 (championship) games, this one will probably be a memorable one,” Southern Columbia coach Jim Roth said. “It was unique. I can’t recall another game that was difficult for us to pull away.”
4 Bishop Guilfoyle 1A 11-4 `
The Mauraders fought through (**) injuries and a 6-4 regular season to win another 1A title, their fourth since 2014 (also 2015, 2016) with a silver medal in 2019. But it didn’t come easy with a 1-2 start per injuries seeing them upset by Penn Cambria (6-6) 27-14, a team they shutout 6 consecutive years from 2013 through 2018. They lost the following week to Richland Township’s revived program (45-6 last 4) 28-3, with Richland (11-3) winning the 2A district-6 crown before losing to Southern Columbia 62-20. Guilfoyle would lose again to district-5 2A powerhouse Chestnut Ridge (6-5, 83-38 last 10) 41-22 before their regular season loss to 3A Bedford (D5, 10-2, 65-40 last 10) 28-10. Richland, Chestnut Ridge and Bedford were all road games against larger schools. Thereon they defeated Purchase Line 38-8 and Homer Center 28-0 in districts before the title game. Here they rallied from an 11 point fourth quarter deficit to beat Juniata Valley (10-2) 24-21 before beating Canton (D4, 13-1) 20-7 in the 1A semifinal. In the final against district-9’s Redbank Valley (13-2), their ground game prevailed (230-27) in a tight 21-14 game with a late score under 4 minutes deciding it. Junior Qb Karson Kiesewetter finished the year with 1163ry and 1921py. Cooper Rother also returns with 1005ry. Hard bunch to stop! If you’ve wondered where Altoona High has gone over the years, look no farther than a few blocks away to Bishop Guilfoyle with their 116-21 record since 2012 for part of that answer.
(**) BG had to readjust their offense after losing senior playmaker Haiden Garner in the second game of the season. Garner threw for 245 yards, ran for 603 yards and caught 32 passes for 466 while also scoring 10 TDs and making 62 tackles in 2020.

The rest
5 Bishop Canevin 1A 13-2

Had a heck of a team despite late season injuries to the quarterback and an extremely youthful team with only 6 seniors. When healthy they’re a tough bunch to stop with their two quarterback system. Look out next year as it’s said they’ll add an exceptional freshman class. Heard that before! They had a representative schedule losing to Clairton (7-3) 28-18 before the playoffs where they beat in Cornell (9-3) 24-7 in the district semifinal then thumped OLSH (9-4) 42-7 to win districts. The WPIAL title game win was the second for Bishop Canevin, having defeated Washington, 21-20 in 1990. Well before that they won a title in 1969 in the Pittsburgh Area Catholic League before joining the WPIAL in 1973. In States, they were nipped by Redbank Valley (13-2) 23-14 in the semifinal after failing to hold a 14-7 halftime lead. A 95-yard Pick 6 to open the second half didn’t help. Redbank was then edged by Bishop Guilfoyle in the final 21-14 to show the balance in 1A last year and how close Canevin was.
6 Notre Dame 3A 7-3
Notre Dame, also known as Notre Dame Green Pond, came out strong last year at 5-0 including a 34-27 win against Northern Lehigh (11-4) who blitzed West Catholic 48-24 in States and feisty Jim Thorpe (7-5) 49-21 before reality set in against perennial power North Schuylkill (11-2) who scored 35 unanswered points in a 42-21 rout of the Crusaders, rolling up 368 yards rushing. Sobering! But it was still good stuff with a largely senior team scoring 37ppg behind a so-so defense allowing 23ppg. They won their next two before getting ambushed at home by rival Wilson (7-4) who outscored them 22-7 in the fourth quarter for a 42-34 win. That may have influenced the following week’s performance where as a 2 seed they played third seeded Jim Thorpe in a rematch after being embarrassed 49-21 earlier in the year. Thorpe sealed it with a fourth quarter score to win 26-18 despite Notre Dame’s 369 yards of offense and senior Qb Collin Quintano completing 23 of 36 for 241 yards and rushing for 68. In a lot of ways this was the year for Notre Dame with a deep and talented senior class.
7 North Catholic 3A 12-1
Incredibly soft regular season schedule of 27-75 provided for a sizeable offense at 39ppg that saw them get past their first 12 opponents with a swift defense in support at 11ppg. This showed up in post season play against Keystone Oaks (6-6) where they needed their big offense to get past the high flying Golden Eagles 48-41, and the defense to put away Avonworth (9-3) 7-0. But nothing could save them at Heinz in the final where a dominant Central Valley (15-0) crushed them 52-15 behind 328 yards rushing and 198 passing to Catholic’s 87 rushing and 91 passing. Central Valley went on to get the first 3-peat since TJ did it in 2005-2007. But it was still a record year for good ole North with an offense that could light it up in coach Patrick O’Shea’s fifth season where he has excelled with a 50-11 mark!
8 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart 1A 9-4
OLSH survived a rocky start going 5-3, winning two overtime games and surviving two upsets to sub .500 teams before turning it around and making the postseason. The turnaround started in a must-win game against a very good Cornell (9-3) team who they edged 13-12 to make the playoffs. Thereon they stayed hot, beating Greensburg Central Catholic (6-5) 28-8, Clairton (7-3) 29-15 and Rochester (9-3) 14-13. That in itself was quite a run, defeating four playoff teams with a combined won-loss of 31-14. But it all came to an end the following week losing to Bishop Canevin (13-2) 42-7 in the WPIAL final at Heinz. Canevin struck hard and fast at 6.3 yards per point with 268 total yards generating 42 points!
9 West Catholic 2 A 4-8
It’s hard putting a positive spin on the Burrs performance last year. But like OLSH, they showed a lot of moxie surviving a 1-6 start before heating up in the postseason. One thing to consider is an inordinately difficult schedule playing 9 games against +500 teams. It’s an impressive list of Malvern Prep (8-2), Bonner-Prendie (9-3), Neumann-Goretti (13-2), Conwell-Egan (8-3), Episcopal Academy (6-4) and Ryan (6-5) in the regular season. The postseason had them playing Conwell Egan again in the playoffs winning 18-13 to win district-12 followed by beating previously unbeaten York Catholic (10-1) 24-7 in the quarterfinals. The Fighting Irish played one winning team all season rendering them ill prepared for a team of West Catholic’s caliber. As a run heavy team, with far more physicality along the lines, West rolled over the lighter/smaller Irish with K’saan Green rushing for 258 yards! The following week saw it all come to an end against Northern Lehigh’s (11-4) well balanced Bulldogs losing 48-24.
10 Conwell Egan 2A 8-3
Unlike West Catholic’s brutal schedule, Conwell Egan had a far easier run where they played 8 games against teams with losing records and a combined won-loss of 25-63! They lost to the strong editions from Bonner Prendie (9-3) 36-20 and Neumann Goretti (13-2) 30-6, two of the better teams in the state, then reeled off 5 straight wins before the district-12 title game against West Catholic in a dangerous rematch. CE won the first one at mid-season in a blowout, 36-0. But the final saw them falter against a fired up opponent who hung on after a scoreless half to get a 18-13 win. End of the day, the Eagles were a scrappy group who won the games they were supposed to win until the final where West Catholic played up to their capability.
11 Greensburg CC 1A 6-5
6-5 doesn’t look like much until you see they played Upper St. Clair (6-5) in the opener, losing 38-0, then followed up with competitive losses with a young group against strong teams. The USC game came about when their week zero opponent West Toronto Prep got cancelled. But you’ve got to credit GCC for stepping up. They were 3-1 going into Bishop Canevin (13-2), losing 20-14 to the team that would win the 1A WPIAL title. Another loss also came on the road against legendary Clairton (7-3) who they took to the wire before an interception allowed the Bears to win 20-13. Then they lost to Leechburg who had a rare but outstanding 9-3 season, scoring in the last :46 of the game to beat them 31-27. But they made the playoffs at 6-4 where they were overwhelmed by Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (9-4) 28-0 in the WPIAL first round.
12 York Catholic 2A 10-1
York Catholic comes in with the 12th seed and strong record built on a soft regular season schedule against no teams above .500 to edge Delone Catholic (5-5) and Seton LaSalle (3-7). Combined, their opponents went 26-50 with a rebuilding Delone their toughest win at 13-6. The York-III was weak last year with Bermudian Springs, Littlestown and Delone rebuilding. But 10 wins is 10 wins! And the Fighting Irish added playoffs wins against Susquenita (5-5) 43-17 and a decent 9-2 Upper Dauphin team 35-8 to win district-3 before the inevitable against West Catholic who despite a 4-8 record had more horses, size and pedigree than York and cruised to a 24-7 win.

Brackets
5
Bishop Canevin 1A 13-2
12 York Catholic 2A 10-1

8 OLSH 1A 9-4
9 West Catholic 2A 4-8

6 Notre Dame 3A 7-3
11 Greensburg CC 1A 6-5

7 North Catholic 3A 12-1
10 Conwell Egan 2A 8-3

Byes
1
Neumann Goretti 3A 13-2
2 Scranton Prep 3A 11-1
3 Serra Catholic 2A 12-2
4 Bishop Guilfoyle 1A 11-4
 
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