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District playoffs scheduled to begin on Oct. 23

Photo for the Mirror by Chuck Meyers Gage Shawley and the Hollidaysburg Golden Tigers will play Central Mountain in the D6 Class 5A final on Oct. 30.

Many high school football teams across the area have played four games so far this season, but some have played even less.

Altoona has just two games in due to a decision by the Mid-Penn Conference to start the season on Sept. 25. Tyrone and Philipsburg-Osceola missed games due to issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, and Portage had an open date on its schedule last week because Ferndale merged with Conemaugh Valley.

But for teams with playoff aspirations, it’s already crunch time.

District 6 released its playoff plan this weekend, and the postseason is set to begin in just three weeks.

Teams in Class 1A, 2A and 3A will start the first round of their playoffs the weekend of Oct. 23-24, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled.

The playoff brackets will be in the same format they have been played in the past few years. There will be 12 teams in Class 1A, with the top four receiving byes and not starting postseason play until Oct. 30-31. The top eight teams in Class 2A will all play Oct. 23-24, as will the top four teams in Class 3A.

Teams must notify District 6 of their intention to participate in the postseason by Oct. 11.

Class 4A, 5A and 6A teams will begin the postseason Oct. 30-31, and the District 6 Class 5A championship game is already set.

Hollidaysburg, which has moved directly into PIAA regionals in many seasons, will take on Central Mountain, which is 3-1.

“Central Mountain called and confirmed that they will be entering the playoffs,” Hollidaysburg athletic director and football coach Homer DeLattre said. “We’ll be playing them on Oct. 30, so our (regular season) game against Central is off.”

DeLattre mentioned Central may be busy that night anyway as the District 6 Class 3A championship game is scheduled for that weekend.

The Scarlet Dragons are just a shade behind Tyrone in the race for the top seed in that classification. Penn Cambria (3-1) and Westmont Hilltop (2-2) will likely be the other two entrants as the only other 3A school, Huntingdon, is winless and has already lost to Tyrone and Central.

In Class 1A and 2A much more still needs to be decided in the next couple weeks. Bellwood-Antis, Southern Huntingdon, Northern Cambria and Marion Center currently hold the top seeds, respectively, in 2A while defending champion Richland is sixth despite being 3-1.

Portage, Penns Manor, Juniata Valley and Conemaugh Valley hold the top four spots in Class 1A.

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic coach Justin Wheeler was thankful the District 6 committee decided to stick with the normal tournament field instead of cutting back entrants.

The Marauders, who self-reported a violated that led to a forfeit against Forest Hills in a game they won 48-0 on the field earlier this year, are ranked sixth in 1A due to that loss and an opening-season setback to Richland.

“Everyone has been waiting for what was going to happen and what (the playoffs) were going to be like,” Wheeler said. “We had an unfortunate thing happen to us against Forest Hills, and we weren’t sure how that was going to affect our playoffs. But now it looks like we’re going to be in, and we’re excited for business as usual in two weeks. We were excited and kind of relieved.”

It’s important to note that teams on a bye, such as the top four seeds in Class 1A, are permitted to continue playing regular season opponents rather than be inactive during the bye week. Also, once a team is eliminated from the postseason, that team is permitted to continue with its regular-season schedule if their opponents are not in the postseason or have also already been eliminated.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to play at all,” DeLattre said. “But now, we’re a few weeks from making it through seven games and being in the playoffs. I’m just really happy for the kids for getting a chance to play and hopefully get a chance in the playoffs.”

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