Last year a Section 1-AAAA title was a requirement to reach the playoffs for teams in the section. Latrobe, Norwin and Penn-Trafford all shared the section title with identical 9-3 section records and the three teams took the three playoff bids the section receives. Hempfield at 8-4 was on the outside looking in. While another three-way share of a section title is unlikely, a tight race is almost a certainty.
"We are eager to get going," Hempfield coach Bob Kalp said. "Missing the playoffs leaves a bad taste in your mouth and it is not going to go away until you change the situation. You have to put a full season in and qualify for the playoffs to put the fact that we didn't make the playoffs last season to rest."
Through the first week of section play everyone is chasing Hempfield (2-0) while Latrobe (1-0) and Penn-Trafford (1-1) have started off with wins. Kiski Area (0-1) and Albert Gallatin (0-2) have ground to make up and Connellsville and Norwin are still trying to get their first section games in.
"Last year was a little different than most years," Kalp said. "There were four teams that were very, very close in talent. In years past there would be three or four good teams but not as evenly matched. Of those four teams last year, every time they stepped on the field, you had no good feeling who would win. We were just evenly balanced, we didn't play well a couple games, we got ourselves behind the eight ball and stayed there."