WPIAL championship Saturday football facts and figures

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Thursday, November 14, 2019 | 5:18 PM


The only numbers that count on championship Saturday are the final digits posted on the giant scoreboard at Heinz Field.

But here are some numbers and historical facts that won’t mean a thing come kickoff time.

Listen to all four title games on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

• The combined championship total for the eight schools playing at Heinz Field is 53. That total does not include championships won by schools that eventually merged to form the current schools such as McKees Rocks, Richland and Monaca.

• 100 years ago, Allegheny won the 1919 championship.

• 75 years ago, Donora, Glassport and Aspinwall won the 1944 championships.

• 50 years ago, Gateway, Richland and German won the 1969 championships.

• 25 years ago, McKeesport, McGuffey, New Brighton and Western Beaver won the 1994 championships.

• 10 years ago, Woodland Hills, West Allegheny, Greensburg Central Catholic and Clairton won the 2009 championships.

WPIAL Class A: Clairton Bears (10-2) vs. Sto-Rox Vikings (11-1) at 11 a.m.

• This is the third time in nine years Clairton is facing Sto-Rox in the Class A final. The Bears beat the Vikings, 42-6, in 2011 and then again the next year, 58-21.

• The only time Clairton has not played in a Class A title game at Heinz Field since 2007 was when North Catholic beat Sto-Rox, 14-0, in the 2013 championship game.

• Clairton has won 13 WPIAL football championships, the second most behind Aliquippa in league history.

• The Bears’ first championship came 90 years ago when they won the Class AAA title in 1929. The school’s fourth championship came 30 years ago when current head coach Wayne Wade was quarterback leading the Bears past Laurel to win 1989 gold.

• Clairton has won nine district championships in the last 14 years, including a WPIAL-record tying five consecutive crowns from 2008-12. Braddock (1955-59) was the only other school to win five straight football titles.

• Sto-Rox has won two WPIAL football championships. The Vikings won Class AA championships in 1966 and again in 1987.

• Before there was a Sto-Rox, McKees Rocks won back-to-back football championships in 1935 and 1936 in Class AA. Then in 1937, Stowe Township captured the Class AA title.

• This is the 17th WPIAL Class A championship game to be played at Heinz Field. Clairton is playing in its 10th title game at the big house with a record of 8-1. The Bears’ only defeat at the North Shore facility was a 15-14 loss to Rochester in the 2004 final.

• As good as Clairton has been at Heinz Field, the opposite is true for Sto-Rox. Including the two losses to the Bears noted earlier, the Vikings are 0-4 at Heinz Field with losses to Springdale in 2003 and North Catholic in 2013.

WPIAL Class 3A: Central Valley Warriors (11-1) vs. Aliquippa Quips (11-1) at 2 p.m.

• Aliquippa is making a record 12th straight trip to a WPIAL football championship game. The Quips’ record in the 11 previous finals is 5-6.

• The last Class AA or Class 3A district football championship game that didn’t include Aliquippa was in the 2007 final when Terrelle Pryor led Jeanette to a second straight championship with a 61-12 rout of Beaver Falls.

• Last year, Aliquippa won a 17th district football championship. Only two other schools have reached double-digit WPIAL football crowns, Clairton with 13 and New Castle with 11.

• In trying to win back-to-back championships, the Quips have successfully repeated four other times. Aliquippa won in 1984 and ’85, 1987 and ‘88 and again in ‘89 and repeated in 2011 and ‘12.

• This is the 10th season of Central Valley football after the school was formed from a merger between Center and Monaca in 2010.

• Center never won a WPIAL football championship but Monaca won two. The Indians edged Avella, 20-19, to win the Class A crown in 1975, then beat Clairton, 14-12, in the 1982 title game. Center lost to Steel Valley, 6-0, in the 1988 WPIAL Class AA final.

• The Warriors stunned the district when in their first year of existence they made the finals and went on to beat Montour, 24-7.

• Central Valley appeared in three straight WPIAL Class AAA championship games in 2013, ‘14 and ‘15. The Warriors beat West Allegheny, 35-28, in ’14 to end the Indians’ two year run. West A beat CV, 16-6, in the 2013 district title game, two years before the Warriors fell to Thomas Jefferson, 20-7, in the ’15 finals.

• The Tri-County West Conference will be a perfect 4 for 4 when it comes to winning the Class 3A championship since expansion to six classifications. Beaver Falls won it all in 2016, Quaker Valley in 2017 and Aliquippa last year.

WPIAL Class 4A: Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (12-0) vs. Belle Vernon Leopards (10-1) at 5 p.m.

• Thomas Jefferson is in a three-way tie for fifth place on the WPIAL football championships list. The Jaguars, Rochester and West Allegheny have all won eight titles, trailing only Aliquippa with 17, Clairton with 13, New Castle with 11 and Jeannette with nine.

• A TJ victory would give coach Bill Cherpak his eighth WPIAL championship, tying him with former West Allegheny and current Mt. Lebanon coach Bob Palko for most WPIAL football championships.

• Braddock and Clairton are the only WPIAL schools to win five straight football championships. No schools have ever won four in a row with the above exception. If TJ wins, it would join a list of schools that won four championships in five years that includes Aliquippa (1985, ’87, ’88, ’89), West Allegheny (1997, ’99, ’00, 01) and Rochester (1998, ’00, ’01, ’02).

• The Jaguars also won four championships in five years when they won in 2004, ’05, ’06 and ’07. No other school has done it twice. Thomas Jefferson won in 2015, ’17 and ’18.

• The last time two teams from the Big Eight Conference met in the WPIAL championship game was 15 years ago when Thomas Jefferson defeated West Mifflin, 20-0, in the 2004 Class AAA title game.

• Belle Vernon is playing in its first WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field.

• The last title game experience for the Leopards was when they lost to West Allegheny, 37-12, in the 1999 Class AAA final at Three Rivers Stadium.

• The Leopards’ only WPIAL football championship came in 1995 when Belle Vernon defeated Franklin Regional, 22-6, thanks to Notre Dame recruit Jason Murray becoming the first Belle Vernon running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season.

• Belle Vernon enjoyed great success in the mid-to-late 90’s. Besides the victory in 1995 and loss in 1999, the Leopards also advanced and played in the 1996 title game with many of the same players from their title run a year earlier. However BVA was knocked off by Blackhawk, 24-6, in the 1996 finals.

WPIAL Class 6A: Central Catholic Vikings (10-1) vs. Pine-Richland Rams (10-1) at 8 p.m.

• This battle is for the “team of the decade” in the highest classification. Central Catholic has won three championships (2013, ’15, ’16), Pine-Richland has won three (2014, ’17, ’18) and North Allegheny has won the other three (2010, ’11, ’12).

• Thirty-one years ago, Central Catholic played in its first WPIAL football championship game and lost to Upper St. Clair, 7-0. That was the first year of the PIAA football playoffs, and USC voted not to participate. Central Catholic represented the WPIAL in the Class AAAA playoffs and ended up winning the state crown, beating Cedar Cliff, 14-7.

• Besides winning a title in the first PIAA championship, Central Catholic also won the first WPIAL Class 6A championship when it defeated Seneca Valley, 42-7, in 2016. The Vikings are 6-4 all-time in WPIAL football championship games.

• Central Catholic won three championships in the first decade of this century with titles in 2003, ‘04 and ‘07. The three golden crowns this decade have come in 2013, ‘15 and ‘16.

• This is the third meeting between Central Catholic and Pine-Richland in a WPIAL football championship game. The Rams have won both earlier meetings, winning 21-13 in the 2014 Class AAAA title game, then beating the Vikings 42-7 in the 2017 Class 6A final.

• Pine-Richland is trying to win a third straight championship after winning 6A gold in 2017 and ‘18. The only other school to win three outright championships in the WPIAL’s highest classification since Wilkinsburg was awarded titles in 1914-1916 was when North Allegheny won the 2010, ‘11 and ‘12 district crowns.

• The Rams are 4-1 in district championship games with four straight victories in 2003, ‘14, ‘16 and ‘17. The lone loss came in the school’s first title game when the Rams lost to Hopewell, 20-15, in the 2003 Class AAA final.

• Before there was Pine-Richland, Richland High School won back-to-back WPIAL Class AA championship games in 1969 and ‘70.

• This will mark the 21st consecutive season that an Allegheny County school wins the district football title in the highest classification. The last team to win gold in the highest class outside of Allegheny County was New Castle when the Red Hurricanes won the 1998 Class AAAA championship.

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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