WPIAL championship Saturday football facts and figures, Class 5A/2A edition
Thursday, November 21, 2019 | 6:33 PM
Four WPIAL football championships are in the books from last week with two more set for Saturday at Norwin HS.
This marks the first year since 1985 that a high school venue will host multiple WPIAL football championship games.
That year, the Class AAAA and AAA championship games were played at Three Rivers Stadium, while the AA final (Riverside 21, Swissvale 15) and the A title game (Monaca 21, Brentwood 13) were played at Mt. Lebanon.
In 1986, the WPIAL moved all four championship games to Three Rivers Stadium and have played four of the finals at the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers ever since.
We shared some facts and figures last week to prepare of the 6A, 4A, 3A and A district title games. Now it’s time to open up the factoid vault to focus on the Class 5A and 2A championship games.
There have only been three previous Class 5A championship games with West Allegheny winning in 2016, Gateway in 2017 and Penn Hills a year ago.
The history of the Class 2A championship is a lot longer with the first title in 1932 when Ambridge was declared champion. The first actual title game was two years later when North Braddock Scott beat Ambridge 6-0 in 1934.
Other 2A anniversary winners:
• 75 years ago, Glassport beat Burgettstown 25-13 to win the 1944 championship.
• 50 years ago, Richland shutout New Brighton 30-0 to win the 1969 championship.
• 25 years ago, New Brighton knocked off Jeannette 35-6 to win the 1994 championship.
• 10 years ago, Greensburg Central Catholic rolled past Aliquippa 33-7 to capture the 2009 championship.
• Washington has won seven WPIAL football championships. With a victory and an eighth district title, the Little Prexies would move into a tie for fifth place on the all-time championship list with West Allegheny and Rochester.
• The first title for Washington came 102 years ago when it tied Johnstown 0-0 to share the 1917 district crown.
• Title No. 3 came in 1923 when Washington was declared WPIAL champion. It was one of three championships in the roarin’ 20s with crowns in 1920 and 1926.
• The most recent gold medal for the Little Prexies came two years ago in Mike Bosnic’s only championship in his 11 years at Washington. Nick Welsh and Curtis Gardner combined for 206 yards on 15 carries as Wash High defeated Steel Valley 37-10 to end the Ironmen’s 26-game win streak.
• Avonworth has never won a WPIAL football championship outright. Its lone title came 60 years ago when it tied Union 13-13 to share the 1959 crown.
• The last title game trip for the Antelopes came five years ago. They went 8-1 in the regular season and avenged their only loss with a 28-21 semifinals victory over North Catholic, but the ‘Lopes ran into the juggernaut Clairton Bears in the Class A finals and lost at Heinz Field, 46-14.
• Since expansion four years ago, Avonworth and Steel Valley have been conference foes. In 2016 and ’17, they were in the Three Rivers Conference, the last two years in the Allegheny Conference. This is the fourth straight year one of them has reached the 2A finals.
• Only four WPIAL teams have a passer and a rusher ranked in the Top 16 in the district — Gateway, Peters Township, Riverside and Avonworth. Antelopes QB Park Penrod has thrown for 1,851 yards while RB Jax Miller has rushed for 1,939 yards.
• Avonworth and Washington are both 13-0 and have three similar victims. Avonworth beat Southmoreland, 41-0, McGuffey, 34-20, and Shady Side Academy, 35-7. Washington beat the Scotties, 44-16, the Highlanders, 36-14, and the Indians, 21-7.
• This game has big shoes to fill if it’s to live up to the early reputation of the first three Class 5A title games that have produced three dandies where the average margin of victory is less than seven points. West Allegheny came back to beat McKeesport 38-37 in 2016, Gateway edged Penn-Trafford 21-16 in 2017, and Penn Hills pulled away from West A last year, 42-28.
• Gateway’s appearance brings the total of championship game trips for Big East Conference teams to four. The Allegheny Eight Conference now has three with Peters Township’s berth while Penn Hills’ title run last year was the only appearance for a Northern Conference team.
• The only other time these two teams met on a football field was in a 2012 Class AAAA first-round playoff game when Gateway rolled past Peters Township, 35-19. Thomas Woodson threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns while Darin Franklin had 159 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Gators.
• Not only has Peters Township never won a WPIAL football championship, Saturday marks the first time the Indians have even reached a district title game.
• The Peters Township program had been 0-4 in WPIAL semifinals game, including last year’s 22-14 loss to eventual champion Penn Hills, before finally clearing the final four hurdle with a 28-10 win over top-seeded Penn-Trafford.
• This year marks the seventh time this decade that Peters Township qualified for the WPIAL football playoffs, only missing in 2014-16. Those seven years are just one short of the rest of the school’s postseason berths combined. The Indians other tastes of playoff football came in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2002 and 2003.
• Gateway has won six WPIAL football championships. Four were outright titles and two were shared crowns, coming after title-game ties with Upper St. Clair in 1974 (6-6) and North Hills in 1985 (0-0).
• The Gators’ first outright championship came 50 years ago when Gateway beat Altoona 22-15 to win the 1969 WPIAL Class AAA title. The other outright championships came in a 20-0 shutout of Jeannette in 1972, a dramatic 7-6 win over North Hills in 1986 and the 21-16 win over Penn-Trafford in 2017.
• The golden run for the Gators two years ago ended a championship drought. Not only had Gateway not won a football title in 31 years, but the victory at Heinz Field in 2017 ended a district-finals losing streak at four. The team lost four AAAA championship games at Heinz Field in a six-year span from 2004-09.
Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.