2022 WPIAL 2A football championship breakdown: Steel Valley vs. Beaver Falls

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Thursday, November 24, 2022 | 9:43 PM


WPIAL Class 2A football championship

No. 1 Steel Valley vs. No. 2 Beaver Falls

2 p.m. Friday, Acrisure Stadium

Video stream: tribhssn.triblive.com

Radio: KDKA (1020 AM, 100.1 FM), WBVP (1230 AM, 99.3 FM)

Winner plays: City League champion Westinghouse (13-0) or District 10 champion Farrell (10-1) in a PIAA semifinal Dec. 2 or 3.

WPIAL titles: Steel Valley 5 (1982, ‘88, ‘89, 2016, ‘18), Beaver Falls 5 (1928, ‘60, ‘84, 2016, ‘20)

Steel Valley (11-0)

Player to watch: Cruce Brookins

The Kent State recruit is one of the WPIAL’s top two-way players. On offense, the dual-threat quarterback averages 216 total yards per game, including 145 yards rushing per week. Brookins has rushed for at least one touchdown in every game and had a season-high six TDs in a quarterfinal win over McGuffey. Defensively, he leads the team in interceptions with six.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Cruce Brookins 35-69, 711 yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT

Rushing: Cruce Brookins, 107-1,454 yards, 30 TDs

Receiving: Mekhai Valentine 10-355 yards, 6 TDs

How they got here: After a first-round bye, No. 1 Steel Valley defeated No. 8 McGuffey, 46-13, in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Neshannock, 32-17, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Ray Braszo

Offense

OT, 76, Jaison Houser, 6-3, 290, sr.

G, 70, Greg Smith, 6-5, 315, sr.

C, 57, Brendan Snyder, 6-0, 200, sr.

G, 52, Terrin Beatty, 6-0, 230, sr.

OT, 55, Michael Crist, 6-3, 285, jr.

HB, 30, Angel Herrera, 6-0, 200, sr.

WR, 19, Makhai Valentine, 6-3, 190, sr.

WR, 2, Da’ron Barksdale, 5-9, 170, fr.

WR, 1, Delmario Shields, 6-1, 170, so.

RB, 3, Donald Barksdale, 5-8, 160, so.

QB, 7, Cruce Brookins, 6-2, 180, sr.

Defense

DT, 76, Jaison Houser, 6-3, 290, sr.

DT, 70, Greg Smith, 6-5, 315, sr.

DE, 57, Brendan Snyder, 6-0, 200, sr.

DE, 19, Makhai Valentine, 6-3, 190, sr.

OLB, 3, Donald Barksdale, 5-8, 160, so.

ILB, 30, Angel Herrera, 6-0, 200, sr.

ILB, 6, JeSean Wright, 5-8, 180, sr.

OLB, 4, Carlos Scott, 6-0, 190, jr.

CB, 1, Delmario Shields, 6-1, 170, so.

CB, 2, Da’ron Barksdale, 5-9, 170, fr.

S, 7, Cruce Brookins, 6-2, 180, sr.

Special teams

K, 15, A.J. Karstetter, 5-10, 140, so.

P, 7, Cruce Brookins, 6-2, 180, sr.

Notable: Steel Valley’s Ray Braszo is seeking his first WPIAL title in his 34th season as a head coach. He’s 27-11 in four seasons with the Ironmen. He spent his first 30 years at West Mifflin and has more than 200 career wins. … Statistically, the Ironmen have the best offense and defense in the WPIAL. The offense is the league’s highest-scoring at 44.9 ppg. The defense allows 7.4 ppg, which also ranks best in the league. … They held 8 of 9 regular-season opponents to a touchdown or less. … Eight Steel Valley defenders have at least one interception, led by Cruce Brookins with five and Jesean Wright with two. … Brookins has 31 total touchdowns, and RB Donald Barksdale has 15. … OL/DL Greg Smith is a Miami (Ohio) commit. … The Ironmen reached the WPIAL 2A semifinals last season as the No. 1 seed, but saw their title hopes dimmed when then-senior Nijhay Burt, the WPIAL’s leading rusher at the time, was injured. … WR/DE Makhai Valentine was a 29-point scorer for a Steel Valley basketball team that reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last winter.

Beaver Falls (11-1)

Player to watch: Trey Singleton

The multi-talented senior has scored seven touchdowns over the past two weeks, and he scored them in four different ways. Singleton had four rushing touchdowns, a 79-yard TD reception, a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 75-yard punt return TD. He has more than 1,000 yards receiving and 19 total touchdowns.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Jaren Brickner 72-141, 1,783 yards, 15 TDs, 8 INTs

Rushing: Jaren Brickner 96-656 yards, 14 TDs

Receiving: Trey Singleton 32-1,035 yards, 10 TDs

How they got here: After a first-round bye, No. 2 Beaver Falls defeated No. 7 Ligonier Valley, 52-0, in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Sto-Rox, 54-16, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Nick Nardone

Offense

OT, 70, Damian Lee, 6-0, 290, jr.

G, 60, Damiano Sims, 5-8, 175, jr.

C, 71, Connor Paolucci, 6-0, 300, sr.

G, 75, Thomas Tutwiler, 6-0, 230, sr.

OT, 63, Sy’Mauri McCoy, 6-3, 265, jr.

TE, 22, Isaiah Aeschbacher, 6-3, 205, sr.

WR, 2, Trey Singleton, 5-11, 170, sr.

WR, 25, Da’Sean Anderson, 5-10, 170, jr.

WR, 6, Mike Blackshear, 5-9, 150, jr.

(or) TE/RB, 3, Da’talian Beauford, 5-11, 175, jr.

RB, 28, Brixx Rawl, 5-8, 180, jr.

QB, 11, Jaren Brickner, 6-2, 180, sr.

Defense

DE, 22, Isaiah Aeschbacher, 6-3, 205, sr.

DE, 60, Damiano Sims, 5-8, 175, jr.

DT, 70, Damian Lee, 6-0, 290, jr.

DT, 63, Sy’Mauri McCoy, 6-3, 265, jr.

LB, 28, Brixx Rawl, 5-8, 180, jr.

LB, 6, Mike Blackshear, 5-9, 150, jr.

LB, 3, Da’talian Beauford, 5-11, 175, jr.

DB, 21, Za’Saun McElvy, 5-8, 155, so.

DB, 2, Trey Singleton, 5-11, 170, sr.

DB, 25, Da’Sean Anderson, 5-10, 170, jr.

DB, 11, Jaren Brickner, 6-2, 180, sr.

Notable:

Beaver Falls has reached the WPIAL finals for the third year in a row and the fourth time in seven seasons. The Tigers lost to Serra Catholic, 35-12, in last year’s Class 2A final. In 2020, they defeated Sto-Rox, 43-30. … Nick Nardone is 39-20 in six seasons as coach. Previously, he was the team’s defensive coordinator, including when Beaver Falls won WPIAL and state titles in 2016. … The Tigers average 39 ppg on offense and allow 8.2 on defense. … Their only loss this season was in Week 1 to Beaver, 19-16. They’ve won 10 in a row since. … Combined, they’ve outscored their last three opponents 148-24. … QB Jaren Brickner is a four-year varsity player with more than 5,000 passing yards. He topped 2,500 yards as a junior and 1,000 as a sophomore. …Trey Singleton leads with a team-high 19 total touchdowns and Brickner has 14.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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