PIAA football Class 2A championship game preview: Westinghouse vs. Southern Columbia

Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 7:24 PM

The third of six PIAA championship games features the only rematch from last season as District 4 champion Southern Columbia tries to win a seventh straight state title when it battles City League champion Westinghouse for the second year in a row.

This is the 35th year of the PIAA football playoffs, which began in 1988.

Since then, the state championship games have been played at one site the last 31 years, first at Mansion Park in Altoona, then at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, and this is the second year the games take place at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.

Here are some Class 2A anniversaries:

• 35 years ago in 1988: Bethlehem Catholic defeated Wilmington, 26-11

• 30 years ago in 1993: Dallas washed away Washington, 31-7

• 25 years ago in 1998: Mount Carmel crushed Shady Side Academy, 44-7

• 20 years ago in 2003: Aliquippa edged Northern Lehigh, 32-27

• 10 years ago in 2013: South Fayette shut out Imhotep Charter, 41-0

• Five years ago in 2018: Southern Columbia rolled past Wilmington, 49-14

• Last year: Southern Columbia 37, Westinghouse 22

Westinghouse (13-0) vs. Southern Columbia (14-1)

1 p.m. Friday, Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley HS

Coaches: Donta Greene, Westinghouse; Jim Roth, Southern Columbia

2023 March to Mechanicsburg: Westinghouse defeated Berlin-Brothersvalley in the preliminary round, Central Clarion in the first round, Farrell in the quarterfinals and Beaver Falls in the semifinals; Southern Columbia defeated Troy in the first round (District 4 finals), Bald Eagle in the quarterfinals and Dunmore in the semifinals

Last week: Westinghouse 28, Beaver Falls 8; Southern Columbia 39, Dunmore 7

Players to watch: Khalil Green, Westinghouse (Jr., 5-9, 175, QB); Garrett Garcia, Southern Columbia (Sr., 6-0, 215, FB/LB);

Team notes

• Westinghouse: The City League champion Bulldogs continued their perfect season last week by eliminating the WPIAL 2A champions from the state playoffs for a second straight season. Last year it was Steel Valley. This season they knocked off Beaver Falls by 20 points. Westinghouse junior quarterback Khalil Green connected on 9 of 14 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown toss of 12 yards to K’Shawn Hawkins. Green also rushed for 67 yards and scored on a 29-yard run. Senior running back TyJuane Abram led the team on the ground with 77 yards and a 3-yard scoring run. Sophomore defensive end Josiah Collins capped off the win for the Bulldogs with a 20-yard fumble recovery returned to the house for The ‘House.

Southern Columbia: The Tigers are the most decorated high school football team in the PIAA football playoff era. They have dominated District 4 under legendary coach Jim Roth and are playing for their 14th PIAA championship. Southern Columbia runs the wing-T offense and is led on the ground by senior fullback Garrett Garcia, who rushed for 188 yards and scored three touchdowns in the semifinals win over Dunmore. For the season, he has 1,693 yards rushing while fellow senior running back Loudon Murphy has 1,436 on the ground. Senior QB Blake Wise has thrown for 1,187 yards this fall.

Historic factoids

• This is the second meeting between Westinghouse and Southern Columbia. The teams collided a year ago in the PIAA 2A championship game with Southern Columbia defeating Westinghouse, 37-22. Braeden Wisloski rushed for 163 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers while teammate Wes Barnes had 113 yards rushing. Quarterback Blake Wise threw for 70 yards and a touchdown. For the Bulldogs, Keyshawn Morsillo rushed for 116 yards. Southern Columbia outgained Westinghouse, 401-290.

• The Tigers are 63-16 all-time in PIAA postseason games and 13-8 all-time in PIAA championship contests. They are No. 1 in games played, wins and championships in PIAA football history.

• Southern Columbia’s 13 state crowns have come in 1994, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. This is the ninth straight state title game appearance for the Tigers, and they have won their last 20 PIAA playoff games, which broke their record of 18 straight set between 2002-2006.

• The Bulldogs are 6-4 all-time in the state football playoff games, with eight of the 10 games coming in the last three years. Westinghouse had three wins last year over Central Clarion, Farrell and Steel Valley and three more this season against Central Clarion, Farrell and Beaver Falls. The four losses were to Sharon in 1995, Greenville in 1996, Farrell in 2021 and Southern Columbia in the 2022 PIAA 2A championship game.

• This is only the fourth appearance in a PIAA championship game for a District 8 team and the City League is 1-2 in the state finals. Perry beat Berwick in the 1989 Class 3A finals, 20-8. Those two teams met again eight years later and the Bulldogs edged the Commodores in the 1997 3A title game, 17-14. Last year, Westinghouse fell to Southern Columbia, 37-22.

• Southern Columbia is 1-0 against the City League in PIAA playoff games and 7-8 against WPIAL teams in the state postseason.


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