WPIAL Class 2A football championship preview: Steel Valley vs. Beaver Falls

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 | 9:18 PM

A rematch is set in the second of four title games Friday at Acrisure Stadium on the North Shore of Pittsburgh in the Class 2A championship game.

Defending district champion and top seed Steel Valley will go up against the Cinderella team of the WPIAL football postseason, No. 10 Beaver Falls.

This is the 91st season of Class 2A football in the WPIAL.

Ambridge was awarded the first 2A championship in 1932. The Bridgers lost in the first 2A championship game two years later to 1933 winner, North Braddock Scott, 6-0.

The winner of this year’s WPIAL 2A championship game will play in the PIAA semifinals Dec. 1 or 2 against the winner of the game between District 8 champion Westinghouse (11-0) and District 10 winner Farrell (11-1).

To prepare you for the 2A championship football game Friday afternoon, we open up a fresh tin of WPIAL football championship factoids.

However, first let’s acknowledge some championship anniversaries from Class 2A.

80 years ago: There were co-champions in Class 2A after the 1943 title game ended in a tie and there was no overtime. Dormont (Keystone Oaks school district) and Glassport (South Allegheny school district) played to a 13-13- tie. It was the second straight year the 2A finals ended in a 13-13 tie after Dormont and Hurst (Mt. Pleasant school district) shared the crown in 1942.

75 years ago: Ties were all the rage in this era. The 1948 Class 2A WPIAL championship game also finished tied. Crafton (Carlynton school district) and Trinity could not score and ended up in a scoreless tie that brought titles to both schools.

50 years ago: Springdale won the 1973 2A championship with a victory over Union, 20-14. The game made history as it was the only WPIAL football championship game ever played at Thomas Jefferson.

40 years ago: Points were hard to come by in the 1983 Class 2A title game as Jeannette squeezed by Canevin, 6-0. The Jayhawks’ Mark Brasco booted a pair of field goals on the turf at Mt. Lebanon Stadium to give Jeannette its second district crown in three years.

30 years ago: You always remember the first time. WPIAL Hall of Fame football coach Guy Montecalvo won two championships at Washington, including the 1993 crown after the Little Prexies edged Riverside, 12-7. The title was the first for Wash High in 67 years.

25 years ago: WPIAL Hall of Fame coach Art Walker won five WPIAL football championships with Mt. Lebanon. In 1998, No. 6 came as head coach of Shady Side Academy after a win over Washington in the title game, 30-12.

10 years ago: In 2010, South Fayette stunned Aliquippa in the 2A finals. Three years later, they met again with the Lions hoping to prove it was no fluke. Brett Brumbaugh threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns as the Lions beat the Quips, 34-28, in the 2013 2A title game. South Fayette made it three wins over Aliquippa in five years in 2014.

Five years ago: Steel Valley captured district gold for the second time in three years when it defeated South Side in the 2018 2A championship game at Robert Morris, 48-6. Kam Williams had 196 yards rushing and three touchdowns, plus he added 104 yards receiving for the Ironmen.

WPIAL Class 2A championship

Beaver Falls Tigers (8-5) vs. Steel Valley Ironmen (10-1)

2 p.m. Friday, Acrisure Stadium

• This is the seventh meeting between Beaver Falls and Steel Valley, and all six previous meetings have occurred in the WPIAL playoffs. The Tigers have won four times and the Ironmen have won twice.

• Beaver Falls’ most recent playoff win over Steel Valley came in the 2021 2A semifinals, 21-8. The Tigers also eliminated the Ironmen in the 2010 playoffs, 19-18, in the 2009 postseason, 42-14 and in the 2007 playoffs, 30-3. The Ironmen were winners in the 2015 quarterfinals, 24-18, and in last year’s 2A title game, 34-14.

• In the 2022 Class 2A championship game, Cruce Brookins rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns to lead Steel Valley to the win, 34-14. Donald Barksdale had a 56-yard scoring run and a 53-yard pick-six for the Ironmen. Jaren Brickner threw for 93 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 53 yards for Beaver Falls. Da’talian Beauford had a 2-yard scoring run for the Tigers.

• Beaver Falls is trying to win its sixth WPIAL football championship. The Tigers were declared district champions in 1928 and 1960 and won three titles on the field. Beaver Falls won 2A gold in 1984, beating Riverside, 14-13. It knocked off rival Aliquippa to win the 2016 3A title, 35-22. Its latest crown was three years ago when it beat Sto-Rox, 43-30, to win the 2020 2A title.

• The Tigers hope to become the second No. 10 seed to win a WPIAL football championship in as many years after Union stunned the all by upsetting top-seeded Bishop Canevin in the 2022 Class A title game. Beaver Falls has knocked off No. 7 Keystone Oaks and No. 2 Neshannock, both on their home field, before ousting No. 3 Washington in the semifinals.

• Steel Valley hopes to win its seventh WPIAL football championship. The first crown for the Ironmen came when they shut out Aliquippa to win the 1982 3A title, 10-0. The second and third titles came back to back in 1988 and ’89. Steel Valley shut out Center in ’88, 6-0, then repeated 2A gold the next season with a win over Freeport, 20-14. The last three have come in the last seven years. The Ironmen crushed Neshannock to win in 2016, 49-14, rolled past South Side in 2018, 48-6, then knocked off Beaver Falls last fall, 34-14.

• Ironmen head coach Ray Braszo is now in his 35th season as head coach, bouncing back and forth between Steel Valley and West Mifflin. He finally captured his first championship last fall. The other three head coaches to lead the maroon and gold to football titles are Rod Steele (2016, 2018), Jack Giran (1988, 1989) and the great George Novak in 1982.

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