HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Indiana gets No. 9 seed in Class AAA playoffs
Maybe Indiana isn’t so unlucky after all.
A regular season rife with misfortune — injuries, bad bounces and quirky plays — is in the rearview mirror now, and the Indians are in the playoffs.
And for once, things might be looking in their favor.
The WPIAL announced the playoff pairings Monday night, and Indiana was placed as the No. 9 seed in Class AAA. The Indians (4-5) will visit No. 8 Ringgold (7-2) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in a first-round game.
“I’m just glad that we’re playing this week and I’m thrilled for our kids that we got in,” said Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas. “I knew we’d play a good team — no matter who we got.”
Here’s where the good luck seems to have come in: Only two of the 16 teams in the bracket have a worse record than the Indians, yet Zilinskas’ team was placed smack-dab in the middle of the pack, meaning the Indians avoided a first-round matchup with one of the Class AAA goliaths, like West Allegheny or Thomas Jefferson.
Why? Luck, of course.
The WPIAL doesn’t like to match teams in the first round that have already played in the regular season. So despite having a record worthy of the No. 13 or 14 seed, Indiana climbed the seeding chart until it stopped at No. 9.
• The Indians couldn’t have been the No. 10 seed because they would have to face No. 7 Highlands (6-3), a fellow member of the Greater Allegheny Conference;
• They couldn’t have been No. 11, because they would have to play No. 6 Mars (8-1), another conference foe;
• They couldn’t have been No. 12, because they would have to play No. 5 West Mifflin (8-1), who they already played in a non-conference game;
• And they couldn’t have been the No. 13 seed because they would have been matched up with conference rival Franklin Regional (8-1), the No. 4 seed.
“Maybe they looked at us and saw we had some respectable performances this year and they moved us up,” Zilinskas said. “They can’t pair up teams from the same conference, so there may have been some matchups like that if they did it the way they wanted to do that. It helped us.”
Ringgold is the third-place team from the Big 9 Conference. The Rams’ two losses came to the teams directly ahead of them in the standings: First-place Thomas Jefferson (31-10) and second-place West Mifflin (42-28).
“Overall, I’m just excited to be the nine seed,” Zilinskas said. “It’s real exciting for us.”
Other games in the bracket are: No. 16 Hollidaysburg (3-6) at No. 1 West Allegheny (9-0), No. 13 Montour (5-4) at No. 4 Franklin Regional (8-1), No. 12 Moon (6-3) at No. 5 West Mifflin (8-1), No. 15 Hampton (4-5) at No. 2 Thomas Jefferson (9-0), No. 10 New Castle (7-2) at No. 7 Highlands (6-3), No. 14 Belle Vernon (4-5) at No. 3 Central Valley (8-1) and No. 11 Elizabeth Forward (6-3) at No. 6 Mars (8-1).
Two other area teams have earned playoff berths and will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class A bracket:
Apollo-Ridge (7-2) got the No. 9 seed, and will play at No. 8 Beth-Center (9-0), the champion of the Tri-County South Conference. Located in Fredericktown, Washington County, Beth-Center has had only one game decided by fewer than 11 points this season.
West Shamokin (6-3) received the No. 14 seed and will visit No. 3 Monessen (9-1), the second-place team out of the Black Hills Conference. Monessen gained some attention earlier this season when it ended Clairton’s 66-game win streak with a 42-24 win.