In search of first WPIAL playoff win, Southmoreland welcomes familiar foe to East Allegheny

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Wednesday 3 November 2021 | 6:53 p.m.


It took 40 years for Southmoreland to make their second appearance in the WPIAL football playoffs.

It was two years ago when the Scotties advanced to the Class 2A playoffs and met future champion Avonworth. The Scotties lost 41-0.

The first appearance was against Eternal Power Penn Hills in 1979, and the Scotties were beaten 31-0.

“My brother (Mark) and I were in the first game of the playoffs,” said Southmoreland coach Dave Keefer. “We went there with my parents, and the match was at Jeannette’s.

The Scotties (7-3) didn’t have to wait another 40 years to qualify again for the playoffs. For the second time in three seasons, the Scotties are back in the playoffs, and this time the game will take place at Russ Grimm Field in Alverton at 7 p.m. Friday against former Keystone Conference nemesis East Allegheny. This is the first time Southmoreland has hosted a playoff game.

“It’s a big deal for the community, the school district and the football team,” Keefer said. “Everyone is excited. “

It’s East Allegheny 20e appearance in the WPIAL playoffs. The Wildcats are 5-18. Their last playoff win dates back to 2017 when they beat Mohawk, 28-14. They were WPIAL champions in 1992, beating Riverside, 33-13.

The Wildcats (4-5) are coached by former Southmoreland coach Dom Pecora, who was 7-12 during the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Scotties. He coached the Scotties the last time the teams met on the pitch, with East Allegheny winning 28-21 in 2011.

“They didn’t have those kinds of athletes there when I was coaching there,” Pecora said of Southmoreland. “It’s the best team I’ve seen or coached against.

“They’re really good and (Anthony) Govern is the best quarterback we’ll face this season. They are big up front. They play with great enthusiasm.

It’s the 21st meeting between schools; the series was one-sided, with the Wildcats holding an 18-1-1 lead. The first meeting took place in 1972 with East Allegheny winning 17-14. The 6-6 tie came in 1979, and the Scotties’ only victory came in 2006, 37-26.

Southmoreland struggled a bit in the regular season finale, pulling away from South Park scoring 21 points in the fourth quarter of a 28-14 victory.

“It was a good comeback,” Keefer said. “The players took it on their shoulders and really stepped it up, and we had a few kids who I thought were shining. Kory (Ansell), Anthony (Govern), JJ (Bloom) and Issac (Trout) really did it.

Govern is having a great season. He completed 77 of 153 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also rushed for a high 655 yards and 15 touchdowns.

His best receivers are Trout (30 catches for 501 yards), Bloom (22 for 277, 4 TDs) and Josh Bass (14 for 225). Trout has scored nine TDs in total.

Although he doesn’t complain about the seed and is happy to have a home game, Keefer felt his side could have been ranked higher.

“We were 7-4 and won four of the last five games, but that’s something we can’t control,” Keefer said. “I’m going to take the game at home; we’re all excited about it. It’s big, historic for Southmoreland.

“The program is headed in the right direction. Seniors have been here for four years, so it’s something special for them.

Keefer said East Allegheny are a talented team.

“They have good team speed and some players are really out of stock,” Keefer said. “Mike Smith is a key player on offense. He’s their quarterback. He’s dangerous and he can make a lot of things happen out of thin air.

“Defensively, they have a defensive end of the stud in Robert Washington. He comes out of the ball, he’s quite dynamic. He’s chasing him, he’s got a motor.

Pecora said he believes his team are better than their record. The Wildcats fell to Steel Valley, Serra Catholic, North Catholic and Freeport, four playoff teams.

“We haven’t been 100% all season,” said Pecora. “We had injuries and problems on and off the pitch. We are getting everyone back little by little.

“Some of the final scores weren’t indicative of how well we played. We were in every game that we lost. We also didn’t have our starting QB against Deer Lakes.

Smith completed 42 of 67 passes for 835 yards and 15 touchdowns. Smith also ran for 181 yards and five touchdowns. The top receiver is Prashaun Gainer, who has 31 catches for 437 yards. Michael Cahill had 10 catches for 281 yards and four touchdowns.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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