New Castle News

October 16, 2012

High School Football: Union snares inside track to playoffs

Dan Irwin
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Like Moses once did, Union High cleared the first hurdle toward reaching the Promised Land.

The Scotties all but wrapped up a WPIAL Class A playoff spot Saturday night with their 33-7 Big Seven Conference win at Shenango. Unofficially, there’s just one scenario that could see head coach Stacy Robinson sharing Moses’ fate and not being allowed to enter, but it’s an unlikely one.

“I told the kids this was their Red Sea moment,” said Robinson, whose team was coming off a disappointing blowout loss last week to Sto-Rox and needed a victory over the Wildcats to secure the inside track to post-season play. “There’s a time in life when you have to ask yourself, ‘Are you going to go through and have faith you can get it done, or are you going to stand on the shore?’

“They went through. They had faith.”

To be clear, Union has not qualified for the WPIAL Class A playoffs yet. But the Scotties (4-2 in conference play, 5-2 overall) need only a win Friday over South Side Beaver (1-5, 2-5) or a loss by Laurel (3-3, 4-3) to Sto-Rox (5-1, 6-1) that same night to wrap up their first post-season bid since 2003.

There are scenarios where Union could end up tied with either Laurel or Shenango — or even with both teams — for the section’s fourth and final playoff spot. However, the Scotties have beaten both the Spartans and Wildcats and would receive the berth either way.

The only apparent scenario by which Union could be locked out of the playoffs would be if Laurel were to win its final two games (against Sto-Rox and Shenango), and the Scotties were to lose both of theirs. In that case, Laurel would be the section’s fourth-place team.

Of course, no one says that the No. 4 spot is Union’s only option. With wins in its final two games — including the season finale at Neshannock (6-1, 6-1) — the Scotties could end up tied for third with the Lancers and get the higher playoff spot. Union even could finish in a three-way tie for second place if it wins out and if Rochester (6-0, 7-0) also wins its final two contests against South Side and Sto-Rox. Since the teams all would be 1-1 against each other, the WPIAL’s Modified Gardner Points System would be used to determine the order of playoff entry.

Robinson, though, knows a much easier formula.

“I don’t even try to stick my nose in that and figure it all out,” he said. “From what I know, we still gotta win our last two games. We’ll go with that.”