Expect to see a handful of high school football teams from the Post-Gazette's Northern coverage region make an impact in the WPIAL standings this season.
Central Catholic once again is expected to be a top dog in the always-competitive Northern Eight Conference. North Allegheny, however, enters this season ranked No. 4 in the Post-Gazette's Class AAAA rankings. Michael Pope, a junior running back, rushed for 552 yards last season and should play a big role in the Tigers' offense. Defending champion Pine-Richland, though, is coming off one of its best seasons in years. The Rams are listed No. 5 in the preseason rankings, but they also graduated a lot of starters, including star quarterback Ben DiNucci. Sophomore Phil Jurkovec will step in at quarterback to run the offense. Also keep an eye on Butler, Seneca Valley and Shaler because all three programs have new coaches this fall. Former Hopewell coach Dave Vestal replaced Don Holl at Seneca Valley, while Rob Densmore took over at Butler and Jon LeDonne at Shaler.