Trib HSSN Top 21 Stories of 2021: Goalposts keep moving for Aliquippa football

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 | 6:24 PM

The year 2021 wasn’t one giant leap for mankind, but it was one big step back toward “normalcy” for all of us, especially the high school athletes from around the WPIAL.

They were able to do what they love to do: compete on area fields, courts, mats and pools. They did so in front of fans again as the return of the loud and raucous student bodies to various events was like hot cocoa on a frigid night.

As has become a year-end tradition, Trib HSSN winds down the year with a daily countdown and a look back at the top 21 WPIAL stories from the year 2021.

No. 9 – Scotties No-No

There are many ways to cap a championship run. A game-winning touchdown, an overtime goal or a buzzer-beating 3-pointer would make for an everlasting memory.

Ranking up there would have to be a no-hitter to win your school’s first WPIAL baseball title.

That’s exactly what Union senior Jake Vitale accomplished in the first district baseball championship game in two years.

The southpaw struck out 15 Riverview batters as the Scotties blanked the Raiders, 3-0, in the 2021 Class A finals.

No. 8 – Beaver makes the perfect List

The Beaver softball team finished the regular season undefeated with a record of 14-0.

Yet when the WPIAL Class 4A playoff brackets were released, the Bobcats were the No. 2 seed behind defending champion Elizabeth Forward.

Three wins later, Beaver was hoisting the school’s second WPIAL championship and first in seven years.

Add four more wins, including a state playoff quarterfinals victory over EF, and the Bobcats were celebrating a PIAA crown and a perfect 21-0 season.

Junior pitcher Payton List played a big part in Beaver’s golden season.

The Virginia Tech recruit was 16-0 in the circle with a 0.64 ERA and 233 strikeouts in 120 innings pitched. She also batted .409 with five home runs and 23 RBI.

She was named the Trib HSSN softball Player of the Year.

No. 7 – Reluctantly moving on up

Every program wants to climb the ladder of success.

However, the Aliquippa football team has no interest in continuing to move up the classification food chain in football.

The Quips have always played up in class in football. They have been a Class A school in enrollment but played in Class AA back in the old four-classification days.

They moved up to 3A when expansion hit the PIAA in 2016 to continue to play with neighboring rivals.

Then the PIAA came up with the competitive balance rule affecting football and basketball where schools earn points based on success and transfers.

Two years after the rule was instituted, Aliquippa was forced to move up to 4A for the 2020 season.

After two years of success that included a WPIAL runner-up trophy in 2020 and WPIAL and PIAA championships in 2021, the Quips were informed they would be moving up again for the next two years to Class 5A.

Aliquippa will appeal, so this story continues into 2022.

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