(Graphic: Post-Gazette photo illustration)
"When the WPIAL announces its football playoff pairings at a hotel ballroom every year, a few coaches actually bring a beer into the room and drink it during the proceedings.
But this year, champagne might have been more appropriate. There could have been a toast to the "new guys."
The WPIAL playoffs begin tonight and the field of 64 teams includes a number of veritable new faces. A few teams hadn't qualified for the playoffs in a long time -- South Allegheny since 1986 and Butler since 1998. Neshannock qualified for only the second time in almost 30 years.
Some other teams struggled mightily in recent years, only to have a successful season and qualify for the postseason. For example, Valley didn't win a game the past two seasons -- a 22-game losing streak -- but finished 6-3 and made the playoffs. Hempfield and Elizabeth Forward both won only two games the past two seasons, but made the playoffs."