WPIAL 2023 Class 5A football championship game preview: Peters Township vs. Pine-Richland

Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 8:35 PM

For the second straight year, the WPIAL Class 5A championship game will be played at Norwin Stadium in North Huntingdon.

The Class 5A finals will be Saturday at noon as Peters Township faces defending champion Pine-Richland.

The reason the two highest classifications are playing their title games a week earlier then everybody else is directly connected to the PIAA football playoff brackets.

The 6A and 5A WPIAL champions enter the PIAA quarterfinals next weekend while the 4A, 3A, 2A, and A winners go directly into the state semifinals the first weekend in December.

This is the eighth year the district has hosted Class 6A and 5A football championship games.

The 5A championship game has bounced around. The district title game was at Heinz Field in 2016, 2017 and 2021, at Newman Stadium at North Allegheny in 2020 and has been at Norwin Stadium three times previously: 2018, 2019 and 2022.

So to prepare for the WPIAL championship games Saturday, we open up a fresh tin of championship factoids.

WPIAL Class 5A championship

Pine-Richland Rams (9-3) vs. Peters Township Indians (12-0)

Noon Saturday, Norwin Stadium, North Huntingdon

• This is the 10th meeting between the teams with Pine-Richland holding a commanding lead in the series, 8-1. The Rams have won four straight since the lone Indians victory in 2016, 32-27. This is the fourth time the two have met in the WPIAL postseason with Pine-Richland winning the previous three. The Rams eliminated the Indians in 2002, 56-20, in 2020, 35-0 and the following season in 2021, 20-14.

• Pine-Richland is trying to win its seventh WPIAL football championship. The Rams’ first title came 20 years ago thanks to a wide receiver named Neil Walker. P-R also won district titles in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022.

• Two years ago, the Rams made history when they became the only school to win WPIAL football championships in four classifications. Their 2003 title was in 3A, 2014 was 4A, 2017 and ’18 were 6A and 2020 and ’22 were 5A.

• Pine-Richland coach Jon LeDonne is trying to win his third district championship after leading Penn Hills to gold in 2018 and the Rams to the title in his first season at P-R last fall.

• Peters Township is trying to win the school’s first WPIAL football championship. Their only other title game appearance was four years ago when the Indians lost to Gateway in the 2019 title game, 21-20.

• The Indians are trying to become the fourth team to win a WPIAL 5A championship with a perfect record. If Peters wins, it would follow West Allegheny in 2016, Penn Hills in 2018 and Pine-Richland in the covid-shortened season of 2020.

• Peters Township coach T.J Plack has had a successful career thus far in stints at South Fayette and Peters Township, but he is trying to win his first WPIAL championship.

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