Trib HSSN Top 20 Stories of 2020: Thomas Jefferson again captures WPIAL, PIAA titles

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Sunday, December 27, 2020 | 6:45 PM


The most unique year in our lifetime is coming to an end. With so many mass starts and stops, highs and lows, just about all walks of life were affected by the coronavirus in 2020.

High school sports were no different. The first two and a half months of the year were carefree and business as usual. Then the final nine and a half months were greatly affected by the pandemic, whether scholastic contests were played or not.

Trib HSSN will close out the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 20 WPIAL stories from the year 2020.

No. 7 — T.J. All the Way…Again

WPIAL fans are used to seeing Thomas Jefferson win championships over the last quarter-century.

Since Bill Cherpak took over the Jaguars in 1996, TJ had won nine WPIAL and four PIAA crowns, including one of each in 2019.

However, while the Jaguars were expected to live up to their mantra that tradition never graduates coming into this season, there were a lot of holes left by graduation with only a couple of starters returning on each side of the ball.

Thomas Jefferson won its first five games and was trying to wrap up another Big Eight Conference title and a perfect regular season when the Jaguars were stunned at home by McKeesport, dropping TJ into a three-way tie for the conference championship with the Tigers and Belle Vernon.

Despite a scare in the district semifinals, a 20-17 victory over Plum, Thomas Jefferson was back in the WPIAL finals for a seventh straight year.

In an instant classic, two of the district’s top programs squared off in an overtime thriller as TJ defeated Aliquippa in the Class 4A final, 35-28. for a third consecutive WPIAL title and the school’s 11th district crown.

Following a state semifinals rout of Oil City, TJ was back in Hershey and back on top of the state’s 4A world with a 21-14 triumph over Jersey Shore, allowing the Jaguars to be the first WPIAL school to win five PIAA football championships.

Thomas Jefferson winning it all may be an old headline, but this was a unique run in an unusual season.

No. 8 – Golden Corral

No. 9 – Perfect Pine

No. 10 – West A Senior Drafted

No. 11 – COVID KOs Champs

No. 12 – Emotional Championship

No. 13 – Outstanding Olivia

No. 14 – The Bucs Aren’t Stopping Here

No. 15 – Free Fall

No. 16 – An Overdue Golden Storm

No. 17 – Lots of Mercy for Central Valley Foes

No. 18 – Swimming Sweep…Again

No. 19 – Fabulous Freshmen

No. 20 – Golden Knights of the Tennis Court

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