Must-win games, battling for home-field advantage headline Week 8

October 19, 2017
Burgettstown head coach Mark Druga has went back to the basics after the Blue Devils 37-14 loss to Charleroi last week. - Celeste Van Kirk/Obsecrver-Reporter

The pregame conversations continue to change for many teams.

Some will have a fight-to-the-end attitude even though theyare out of the playoffs.

Others like Washington, Belle Vernon and South Fayette – the only remaining undefeated local high school football teams – will consist of the finish-what-you-started mindset to keeping their perfect records.

Then there are those where every yard, play and possession count because it could determine playoff fate.

Here’s what some speeches will sound like and what to look for when Week 8 of the high school football season kicks off:

1. A quick turnaround – Burgettstown head coach Mark Druga is really going to have to rally the troops after the 37-14 thumping put on them last week by Charleroi.

It’s hard to consider that an upset being the Cougars only loss of the season came at the beginning of September to Washington.

Charleroi is the real deal, especially against teams that might have a difficult time defending the pass.

But what does Druga say?

Burgettstown is inviting the same Prexies to Hill Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. tonight for a Century Conference matchup that could determine the conference champion.

People, including myself, have raved about the Burgettstown defense that has shut opponents down with the exception of the last two weeks.

There is no such thing as a good loss, but what happened to the Blue Devils last week is something they can definitely learn from.

We’ll hsee if one week is enough time to learn for their biggest test of the year.

2. Revamped rivalry – Everybody knows everybody when Peters Township and Canon-McMillan play each another in any sport.

But football hasn’t – at least in quite some time – been where the rivalry has been reignited; it’s been more about which team isn’t going to finish last in the conference.

That can’t be said when the two meet at 7 p.m. tonight at Big Mac Stadium with the final two playoff spots in the Southeastern Conference still up for grabs.

If Peters Township (3-2, 5-3) wins, then it is in.

Canon-McMillan (2-3, 4-4) would still need some help to earn the final playoff spot even if it was to defeat the Indians.

3. Not much needs to be said – Charleroi head coach Donnie Militzer only needs to mention two years to motivate the Cougars.

Charleroi (4-1, 7-1) hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 or hosted a playoff game since 1998.

Extending the streak of missing the playoffs is no longer in doubt, but the Cougars have their eyes strictly on getting a home game and making noise come playoff time.

Beth-Center (4-1, 7-1) will present a similar challenge as Burgettstown did last week. The Bulldogs are big, physical and want to run the football.

It’s another contrast of styles from Charleroi’s throw-it-around, beat-teams-in-space strategy to effectively use its team speed.

4. Another playoff game for Trinity – The Hillers might be in their second or third week of playing playoff football.

While it’s still considered the regular season, Trinity has been playing must-win games to stay in the hunt for a berth out of the competitive Big Nine Conference.

This week doesn’t change that when it travels to Greensburg Salem (3-3, 3-5), which is also fighting for one of the last two spots up for grabs, tonight for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Trinity (3-3, 4-3) needs to do what it has done the past several weeks, beat teams it should beat.

The Lions are no exception with an up-and-down offense that has only scored 18.3 points per game, including only 45 points in their last five games.

5. Home field up for grabs – A first-round home playoff game will be at stake when Fort Cherry hosts Carmichaels (5-1, 5-2) tonight at 7:30 p.m.

The winner will move into second place in the Tri-County South Conference.

Even if Fort Cherry (4-1, 6-1) loses its final conference game – Carmichaels has a non-conference game to conclude its regular season – it would still own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win over the Mikes.

Staff writer Luke Campbell can be reached at lcampbell@observer-reporter.com.

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