Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rivalry Yields an Unusual Backdrop

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rivalry Yields an Unusual Backdrop

Article excerpt

For years, arch-rivals Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic have met in the final game of the regular season.

Many times, the conference title is on the line. It's also commonplace for both teams to be undefeated entering the game.

This year, there is something different at stake.

It could be a case of the winner makes the playoffs and the loser goes home.

The top four teams in the Class AA Interstate Conference earn postseason bids. Mount Pleasant (8-0) and Washington (6-1) have clinched spots, while Jeannette, Greensburg Central Catholic and Yough are all 4-3 and fighting for the two remaining positions. Yough plays host to Southmoreland (3-4) on Friday.

The playoff picture, however, was thrown a curveball Tuesday morning when the WPIAL ruled that Washington will have to forfeit six wins for using an ineligible player. Washington plans to appeal its case to the PIAA this week. If the penalty goes into effect, all three 4-3 teams will advance to the postseason.

But that is still uncertain. In the meantime, both Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette know there could be a little bit more on the line Friday when the Centurions play host to the Jayhawks.

"It's definitely bigger this year," Greensburg Central Catholic coach Dan Mahoney said Monday. "Obviously, this is a good rivalry. I don't recall a game between us where the winner is going to the playoffs or the loser is staying home."

Both teams have been playoff regulars. Greensburg Central Catholic has reached the postseason 10 seasons in a row. Jeannette has been there 18 of the past 19 seasons.

What also makes this matchup interesting is that the teams have been going in opposite directions over the past month. Greensburg Central Catholic started the season 0-3, but has since won four of its past five games. Jeannette, on the other hand, got off to a 4-0 start, but has lost four in a row for the first time in more than a decade.

Jeannette coach Roy Hall said his team just simply has to win a game, regardless of who the opponent was going to be this week.

"I told them they are in uncharted waters. It's been a long time since we've lost four in a row," Hall said. "We have to come and play. …

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