PIAA football Class 4A championship game preview: Aliquippa vs. Dallas

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | 11:48 PM


The second of six PIAA championship games features several standout juniors as District 2 champion Dallas, fresh off a double overtime victory over defending champion Bishop McDevitt, battles WPIAL champion Aliquippa, which is in the state title game for a third straight year.

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 4A anniversaries:

• 35 years ago in 1988: Central Catholic defeated Cedar Cliff, 14-7

• 30 years ago in 1993: North Hills edged Central Bucks West, 15-14

• 25 years ago in 1998: Central Bucks West crushed New Castle, 56-7

• 20 years ago in 2003: North Penn knocked off Central Catholic, 37-10

• 10 years ago in 2013: St. Joseph’s Prep beat Central Catholic, 35-10

• Five years ago in 2018: Cathedral Prep rolled past Imhotep Charter, 38-7

• Last year: Bishop McDevitt 41, Aliquippa 18

Aliquippa (13-0) vs. Dallas (15-0)

7 p.m. Thursday, Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley

Coaches: Mike Warfield, Aliquippa; Rich Mannello, Dallas

2023 March to Mechanisburg: Aliquippa defeated Latrobe in the quarterfinals, Mars in the semifinals and McKeesport in the WPIAL championship game, then beat Selinsgrove in the PIAA semifinals; Dallas defeated Wallenpaupack in the quarterfinals, Nanticoke in the semifinals and Valley View in the District 2 championship game, then beat Monsignor Bonner-Archbishop Prendergast in the PIAA quarterfinals and Bishop McDevitt in the semifinals

Last week: Aliquippa 52, Selinsgrove 32; Dallas 26, Bishop McDevitt 23 in double overtime

Players to watch: John Tracy, Aliquippa (Sr., 6-0, 160, RB/MLB); Brady Zapoticky, Dallas (Jr., 6-0, 190, QB/DB)

Team notes

Aliquippa: The Quips earned a third straight trip to the PIAA Class 4A championship game thanks in large part to a strong running attack they showcased in a 20-point win over Selinsgrove in the state semifinals last weekend. Senior running back John Tracy enjoyed a breakout performance with 270 yards rushing on 15 carries and four touchdowns, including a scoring reception, plus junior Tikey Hayes ran for 153 yards on 13 carries and two scores. Senior quarterback Quentin Goode threw for 104 yards and a TD.

Dallas: The Mountaineers knocked out the defending PIAA 4A champion Bishop McDevitt in a PIAA semifinals thriller last week in double overtime. Junior quarterback Brady Zapoticky threw for 118 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came on a 5-yard pass to Nate Malarkey in the first overtime. Rowan Laubach booted a 26-yard field goal in the second overtime to send Dallas to the PIAA finals. Zapoticky has thrown for 1,879 yards and 25 touchdowns this season while fellow junior Dylan Geskey leads the Mountaineers in rushing with 1,473 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Historic factoids

• This is the first meeting between Aliquippa and Dallas.

• The Quips are 18-8 in the PIAA playoffs. They are 4-5 in state championship games with victories in: 1991 over Hanover, 27-0; in 2003 over Northern Lehigh, 32-27; in 2018 over Middletown, 35-0; and in 2021 over Bishop McDevitt, 34-27. Aliquippa’s losses were in 1988 to Berwick, 13-0; in 2000 to Mount Carmel, 26-6; in 2012 to Wyomissing, 17-14; in 2015 to Southern Columbia, 49-14; and in 2022 to Bishop McDevitt 41-18.

• The Mountaineers are 6-3 all-time in PIAA postseason games. They are 1-1 in state championship games, beating Washington in 1993, 31-7, and losing to Thomas Jefferson in 2019, 46-7.

• Aliquippa is 1-1 all-time against District 2 teams while Dallas is 1-1 all-time against WPIAL teams.

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