Trojans' Ryan tackled by three Pioneers

Lori C. Padilla

California’s Cochise Ryan is stopped by West Greene’s Ben Jackson (34), Marcus Morris (78) and Andrew Litton during their Tri-County South game at Trojans Stadium last year. The Trojans won, 24-14. The two teams meet again tonight at Kennedy Field.

It took four tries but West Greene finally came out on top.

The Pioneers, Monessen and California, who all tied for first place in the Tri-County South Conference in football, even after all formal tiebreakers were implemented, were required to hold a coin-flip session Monday morning at the WPIAL headquarters in Green Tree to determined their order of finish.

The coin flip was key because whoever was deemed the first-place team would receive a first-round home game in the WPIAL football pairings announced later that day.

Thus the Pioneers were seeded No. 4 in the eight-team field and will play at home.

Well, sort of.

West Greene has announced that game against No. 5 Rochester will be moved to Waynesburg Central High School’s field due to expected inclement weather.

The Pioneers play on a grass field that is currently in poor condition due to recent rain. Waynesburg has an artificial surface.

West Greene athletic director Billy Simms represented his school at the coin flip, with California coach Darrin Dillow and Monessen principal Eric Manko representing their respective schools.

All three were to flip coins with the odd one kicked out as the third-place team. But all three flipped heads, then tails, then tails again before the Trojans were eliminated on the fourth flip.

That left the Pioneers and Greyhounds, and West Greene was then awarded the top spot and, thus, the home game, due to its head-to-head, 24-6 victory over visiting Monessen on Sept. 21.

All three teams finished 6-1 in the TCS as the Greyhounds won at California, 30-20, on Aug. 31, while the Trojans knocked off visiting West Greene, 24-14, on Oct. 5.

The Pioneers are 7-3 overall and Monessen is 7-2.

California, which is 6-4, was the hottest team of the three, having won its final five games after a 1-4 start. The Trojans had an undefeated regular season last year and reached the WPIAL semifinals as the top seed.

This year California was seeded seventh and will play No. 2 Clairton at Elizabeth Forward on Friday.

West Greene, under coach Rod Huffman, is making its second straight playoff appearance after breaking a 24-year postseason drought in 2017.

The Greyhounds, under second-year coach Mikey Blainefield, had one of the biggest turnarounds among area teams, rebounding from a 3-8 season last year.

Monessen, despite a better record and a head-to-head win over California, was seeded eighth and last, and travels to Hempfield where it will face top-seeded Jeannette.

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