Competition Tight in 3a,class 3A; with Only Three Conferences and Eight Playoff Spots, One Thing Is Certain in Class 3A. [Derived Headline]

By Bill Beckner JR. | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 18, 2016 | Go to article overview

Competition Tight in 3a,class 3A; with Only Three Conferences and Eight Playoff Spots, One Thing Is Certain in Class 3A. [Derived Headline]


Bill Beckner JR., Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


With only three conferences and eight playoff spots, one thing is certain in Class 3A.

"You're going to have some pretty good teams staying home," Beaver coach Jeff Beltz said.

The top two teams in each of the Beaver Valley, Allegheny and Interstate conferences automatically qualify, along with two wild- card teams.

The 3A classification is fortified by teams from Beaver County.

The regular season could be an exposition to the county's perennial powers clashing in the playoffs.

The Beaver Valley Conference houses four of the top five teams in the Trib's preseason rankings: defending champion Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Beaver and Central Valley.

Beaver Falls has several Division I prospects and an explosive offense that makes the Tigers a strong contender for their first WPIAL title since 1984. Senior tight end/defensive end Donovan Jeter is being courted by some of the country's top programs but would like to play a role in dethroning one of the WPIAL's most storied programs.

Defending Class AA champion and PIAA runner-up Aliquippa, dented some by graduation losses, will set out to make its ninth straight title-game appearance at Heinz Field.

It remains to be seen what type of impact all-conference cousins Davion and Tariq Jones will have after transferring from Ambridge.

Ten of the 23 teams in 3A made the Class AA playoffs last season. Central Valley was the Class AAA runner-up.

The Interstate has teams from Westmoreland, Greene, Allegheny and Washington counties, and Mt. Pleasant, according to some coaches, could be the team to beat. But with so few playoff berths, the importance of regular-season games is much greater. One bad week could cost a team its season.

"It's going to be a lot harder to get in," Yough coach Scott Wood said. "Everybody is looking at our conference as the weakest of the three. …

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