PIAA football championship factoids: WPIAL teams look to make history

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020 | 5:04 PM


In 33 years of PIAA football playoffs, the WPIAL has never had more than three state champions crowned in a single year.

It has been a unique season in so many ways, so why not wrap up the football season with four District 7 teams winning state gold?

WPIAL champions Pine-Richland in Class 5A, Thomas Jefferson in 4A, Central Valley in 3A and Jeannette in Class A head east to Hershey with hopes of winning their second football title in the month of November.

So to go along with turkey, potatoes, stuffing and pies, here are some PIAA factoids as part of your holiday feast.

The district scoreboard has WPIAL leading with four teams in the PIAA finals, followed by three teams from District 3, two teams each from Districts 10 and 4 and one from District 12.

No teams from District 1, 2, 5, 6 or 9 qualified while teams from District 8 (City League) and District 11 chose not to participate in the state playoffs this fall. Also, District 12 was greatly affected by the global pandemic this season.

Now, a history lesson: Here are the teams that won PIAA football championships:

30 years ago: North Allegheny, Bethlehem Catholic, Hanover and Marian Catholic won in 1990.

25 years ago: Penn Hills, Berwick, Bishop McDevitt and Farrell won in 1995.

20 years ago: Cathedral Prep, Strath Haven, Mt. Carmel and Rochester won in 2000.

10 years ago: North Allegheny, Allentown Central Catholic, West Catholic and Clairton won in 2010.

5 years ago: Central Catholic, Imhotep Charter, Southern Columbia and Bishop Guilfoyle won in 2015.

PIAA Class A

Jeannette Jayhawks (10-1) vs. Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers (9-0)

11 a.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, on Trib HSSN

• Both teams were state champions in 2007. Jeannette beat Dunmore, 49-21, in the Class AA finals while Steelton-Highspire knocked off Serra Catholic, 34-15, in the Class A title game.

• Both teams are searching for their third PIAA title, with the Jayhawks also winning gold in 2017 over Homer-Center, 42-12, and Steelton-Highspire winning back-to-backs crowns in 2007 and 2008 after defeating Clairton, 35-16.

• These two teams are a combined 4-1 in state championship games. The only loss was by Jeannette in the 2006 Class AA finals, a 29-28 loss to Wilson.

• Besides the two Class A titles won by the Steamrollers in ’07 and ’08, the only other PIAA Class A championships won by District 3 are Camp Hill in 1988 and Scotland School in 1992.

• WPIAL teams have won 47 state championships. Class A teams have won 13 of those titles, second most behind Class AAAA with 14. Rochester, Farrell, Duquesne and South Side won titles from 1993-2001 while Clairton, North Catholic and Jeannette have won gold since 2009.

PIAA Class 2A

Wilmington Greyhounds (10-0) vs. Southern Columbia Tigers (11-0)

11 a.m. Saturday, at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey

• Wilmington is playing in its fifth PIAA championship game. It won the longest state championship game in 2008 by beating Philadelphia West Catholic, 35-34, in double overtime.

• The Greyhounds lost in 1988 to Bethlehem Catholic, 26-11, and lost to Southern Columbia in the 2017 and 2018 finals by scores of 48-0 and 49-14.

• Southern Columbia is the three-time defending PIAA Class 2A champion and has won 59 games in a row. It is seven wins shy of the state record win streak held by Clairton at 66 wins in a row.

• The Tigers are the most successful program in the PIAA playoff era. This will be their 19th trip to the state finals, and they have won a record 10 PIAA championships. Six times they beat WPIAL teams for gold, including 1994 over Western Beaver, 2002 and 2004 over Rochester, 2005 over Duquesne, 2015 over Aliquippa and 2019 over Avonworth.

PIAA Class 3A

Central Valley Warriors (11-0) vs. Wyomissing Spartans (9-0)

3:30 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, on Trib HSSN

• Central Valley has the current longest win streak in the WPIAL with 11 wins in a row.

• The Warriors are still searching for their first PIAA title after coming up short in two previous finals. Six years ago, Central Valley lost to Archbishop Wood, 33-14, in the 2014 Class AAA title game, and last year, it fell to Wyoming Area, 21-14.

• Wyomissing is playing in the PIAA championship game for the second time in school history. The Spartans won state gold eight years ago when they defeated Aliquippa, 17-14, in the 2012 Class AA finals.

• In the first 25 years of the state playoffs, District 3 teams won 11 football championships. However, it has been eight empty years in D-3 since Wyomissing won gold in 2012.

• Central Valley has outscored 11 opponents this year, 566-97, while Wyomissing has outscored its nine opponents, 425-46.

PIAA Class 4A

Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (9-1) vs. Jersey Shore Bulldogs (10-0)

3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, on Trib HSSN

• Thomas Jefferson is 4-0 in state championship games, beating Manheim Central, 56-20, in 2004; shutting down Garnet Valley, 28-3, in 2007; cruising past Archbishop Wood, 34-7, in 2008; and winning it all in 2019 over Dallas, 46-7.

• The Jaguars hope to break a tie with Central Catholic and Clairton for most PIAA championships by a WPIAL team. All three programs have four state titles.

• Jersey Shore is playing in its first PIAA championship game. The furthest the Bulldogs have gone in the state playoffs prior to this season was last year when they lost to Dallas in the state semifinals, 56-28.

• District 4 has won 15 state championships in football. However, Southern Columbia has won 10 of those titles and Mt. Carmel has won PIAA gold four times. The only other District 4 school to win a PIAA crown was Selinsgrove in 2009.

• The last time Thomas Jefferson played a school with the nickname the Bulldogs was 12 years ago. The Jaguars defeated the West York Bulldogs, 49-21, in the 2008 PIAA Class AAA semifinals.

PIAA Class 5A

Pine-Richland Rams (10-0) vs. Cathedral Prep Ramblers (7-2)

8 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, on Trib HSSN

• Pine-Richland hopes to win the school’s second PIAA football crown. The first came in 2017 when the Rams captured the district’s only Class 6A state championship with a 41-21 triumph over St. Joseph’s Prep. It is the only time the Hawks didn’t win the Class 6A title since expansion to six classifications in 2016.

• The Rams lost heartbreakers in their first two visits to the PIAA finals. P-R fell to Manheim Central in a snowstorm in 2003, 39-38, in overtime, and they lost to St. Joe’s Prep in the 2014 Class AAAA title game, 49-41.

• Pine-Richland is trying to become the fifth WPIAL school to win a PIAA championship in two different classifications. Having won in Class AAAA already, a win puts the Rams on the same list as Aliquippa (AA, 3A), Penn Hills (AAAA, 5A), Thomas Jefferson (AAA, 4A) and Jeannette (AA, A).

• Cathedral Prep is one of the most decorated programs in the PIAA with five state championships. The Ramblers won it all in 2000 and 2012 before winning three straight state titles in 2016-18.

• Thomas Jefferson’s 28-13 victory over Cathedral Prep in last year’s Class 4A quarterfinals snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Ramblers against WPIAL foes in the state playoffs. The previous loss to a District 7 team by ECP was in the 2009 Class AAA quarterfinals, a 36-21 defeat to West Allegheny.

PIAA Class 6A

Central York (10-0) vs. St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks (5-0)

8 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey

• This is the first state championship game appearance for District 3 champion Central York.

• A District 3 team has only won two state championships in the PIAA’s highest classification. Cumberland Valley beat Upper St. Clair, 28-12, to win the 1992 Class AAAA title, and Central Dauphin defeated North Penn, 14-7, in the 2011 Class AAAA finals.

• Defending Class 6A state champion St. Joseph’s Prep has won 16 consecutive games since losing to national power IMG Academy, Fla. in Week 2 of the 2019 season.

• The Hawks are playing in their seventh state championship game. St. Joseph’s Prep won five PIAA crowns with gold collected in wins over Central Catholic in 2013 and 2016, Pine-Richland in 2014, Harrisburg in 2018 and Central Dauphin in 2019. This marks the third straight year St. Joe’s Prep is facing the District 3 champ in the Class 6A finals.

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