Saturday, October 30, 2021 | 9:20 PM
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Leechburg’s Eli Rich runs against Greensburg Central Catholic on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, at Greensburg Central Catholic.
Leechburg has spent much of the last month checking off goals attained.
First winning season since 1991 — check.
First time in the WPIAL playoffs since 1988 — check.
First eight-victory season since 1980 — check.
And now, the first home playoff game in the 75-year history of Leechburg Veterans Stadium.
The No. 7-seeded Blue Devils (8-2) will take on No. 10 California (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
The last time Leechburg played the Trojans in the postseason, it was the 1965 championship game, a 37-7 Blue Devils victory at Wilkinsburg’s Graham Field.
“We figured the winner of (Friday) night’s game against Greensburg Central Catholic would get a home game,” Leechburg coach Randy Walters said. “I talked to their coach, Marko Thomas, and he said the same thing.”
The Blue Devils won 31-27 on a touchdown with 46 seconds to go.
“I know our kids will be excited and the community will be excited, and we should have a good crowd,” Walters said.
Now, Leechburg is seeking its first playoff win since 1978 when the Blue Devils defeated Neshannock, 7-0.
The only other WPIAL playoff game at Leechburg was in 1975 when Kittanning beat Union. In that era, the hosting conference got to pick a stadium to host a neutral-site playoff game.
Leechburg is one of seven Alle-Kiski Valley teams that have been bracketed for the 2021 playoffs. All games Friday will start at 7 p.m., a change from the traditional 7:30 kickoffs.
Not long ago, it looked like the only thing Highlands would be doing at Golden Rams Stadium this week was turning in equipment.
Now, No. 8 Highlands (7-3) will be preparing to host a home playoff game against No. 9 New Castle (6-4) on Friday after must-win victories the past two weeks.
“Actually, last weekend I told my wife that I had the feeling we’d be playing New Castle if we got in,” coach Dom Girardi said. “Now, we have them here at home. I think our maturity since the start of the season has been amazing, and the kids deserve the credit.”
The Golden Rams are in the playoffs for the first time in six seasons and will play the Red Hurricanes, 12-time WPIAL champions.
Highlands is 1-2 against New Castle in past playoff games, losing in 1982 and ’83 and winning 24-19 in 2013.
Also getting a …….