Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wash High, Mcguffey in a Big One

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Wash High, Mcguffey in a Big One

Article excerpt

When McGuffey plays host to Washington Friday, there will be a lot on the line in what to this point is the biggest game of the season for both teams.

And it goes beyond that.

"For Washington County, this is probably as big of a football game as you can get," McGuffey coach Ed Dalton said.

First and foremost, the Class AA Interstate Conference title is at stake. Washington (8-0, 7-0) is in first place and McGuffey (7- 1, 6-1) is tied for second. With a win, Washington will win the title outright. If McGuffey wins, the teams will split the title, with Mount Pleasant (6-2, 6-1) possibly joining that mix. The Vikings play host to Southmoreland (4-4, 4-3). McGuffey's only loss was to Mount Pleasant, 45-39, in the season opener.

The top two teams in each conference will host a WPIAL first- round playoff game, so starting out the postseason at home and earning a higher seed is also on the line.

"Obviously, it's for the Interstate Conference championship or at least a share," said Dalton, who is in his third season at McGuffey. "It's kind of a playoff game before the playoffs, so it's a good preparation thing.

"We'll have an opportunity to possibly host a playoff game if we win. It's a lot of things all at once. One of our goals coming into the season was to win the conference [title]. We now have that chance."

A conference title would be McGuffey's first in 20 years. In 1994, the Highlanders, led by star running back Jason Barr, captured the conference title and went on to win the WPIAL Class AAA championship. McGuffey has qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The year before Dalton took over, the Highlanders went 0-9.

Meanwhile, Washington has clinched at least a share of the conference title for the second time in three seasons. The seniors on this team have never finished any lower than second.

Washington will be faced with the task of slowing down McGuffey running back James Duchi, one of the best the Highlanders have had since Barr. …

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