WPIAL Class 2A high school football playoff preview for Nov. 17, 2023

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Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 4:27 PM


Final Four Friday is set for four WPIAL classifications as 16 teams try to earn a trip to the North Shore in Pittsburgh the day after Thanksgiving.

In Class 2A, there remains one defending champion, one first-time semifinalist and a 10th seed hoping to repeat what No. 10 Union did in Class A a year ago.

Don’t forget after the games on Friday to tune in to the WPIAL football scoreboard show for all the results and plenty of recaps starting at 9:15 p.m.

Semifinals

No. 5 Mohawk (10-2) vs. No. 1 Steel Valley (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Joe P. DeMichela Stadium, West Allegheny

Coaches: Tim McCutcheon, Mohawk; Ray Braszo, Steel Valley

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Mohawk lost to McGuffey in the first round; Steel Valley had a first-round bye, then defeated McGuffey in the quarterfinals, Neshannock in the semifinals and Beaver Falls in the 2A championship game

Last week: Mohawk 17, Imani Christian 12; Steel Valley 21, Western Beaver 18

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A championship game next Friday at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh to battle the winner of No. 3 Washington against No. 10 Beaver Falls

Players to watch: Jay Wrona, Mohawk (Sr., 6-0, 170, QB; Donald Barksdale, Steel Valley (Jr., 5-10, 172, RB/DB)

Team notes

• Mohawk: The Warriors defense is picking up, allowing only 12 points in two postseason victories over Burrell and Imani Christian. On offense, Mohawk senior quarterback Jay Wrona continues to shine as he threw for 130 yards and a 34-yard scoring pass to Dante Retort last week, plus wide receiver Bobby Fadden was a perfect 2 for 2 passing, including a 32-yard scoring pass to Joey Nail.

• Steel Valley: The playoff debut for the defending district champion Ironmen was a struggle as they fell behind twice in the first quarter before coming back to squeeze out a three-point victory. Junior running back Donald Barksdale was a workhorse with a capital W. He rushed for 250 yards on a mind-numbing 41 carries and scoring on touchdown runs of 2 and 43 yards.

Historic factoids

This is only the second meeting between Mohawk and Steel Valley. The first was also in a WPIAL postseason game as the Ironmen knocked off the Warriors in the 1999 Class 2A playoffs, 33-13.

This is the first time the Mohawk program has reached the WPIAL semifinals in nine postseason trips.

Steel Valley has won six WPIAL football championships. The first came in 1982 on a 10-0 shutout of Aliquippa for the 3A title. The Ironmen were also golden in 1988, 1989, 2016, 2018 and 2022.

These teams are a combined 19-3 this season. Four years ago in the covid-19 shortened season, the Warriors and Ironmen were a combined 3-11.

No. 10 Beaver Falls (7-5) vs. No. 3 Washington (11-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Dormont Stadium

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Mike Bosnic, Washington

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Beaver Falls had a first-round bye and defeated Ligonier Valley in the quarterfinals and Sto-Rox in the semifinals before falling to Steel Valley in the 2A championship game; Washington upset Serra Catholic in the first round, then lost to Neshannock in the quarterfinals

Last week: Beaver Falls 14, Neshannock 13; Washington 18, McGuffey 7

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A championship game next Friday at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh to battle the winner of No. 5 Mohawk against No. 1 Steel Valley

Players to watch: Da’talian Beauford, Beaver Falls (Sr., 6-0, 180, RB/MLB); Tristan Reed, Washington (Soph., 6-4, 160, QB/WR/S)

Team notes

• Beaver Falls: Whether they like it or not, the glass slipper fits on the paw of the Tigers this postseason. A team used to wearing the target, Beaver Falls has embraced the No. 10 seed with wins over Keystone Oaks and Neshannock. Last week, in the upset of the Lancers, senior running back Da’talian Beauford rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown for the black and orange.

• Washington: For the second time in three weeks, the Little Prexies shut down rival McGuffey. The Week 9 win led to a share of the Century Conference title while last week secured a spot in the 2A semifinals. Wash High sophomore quarterback Tristan Reed was 9 of 16 passing for 107 yards and a 20-yard scoring strike to Elijah Thomas while teammate Jahvon Woods had two short touchdown runs.

Historic factoids

This is the 11th time that Beaver Falls and Washington have met with the last matchup coming 22 years ago. The Tigers have five wins, the Little Prexies have three wins, and they played to scoreless ties in 1915 and 1945.

The teams met six straight times in the regular season between 1913-1918 and then again in back-to-back years in 1944-1945. The Tigers were 4-2-2 in those meetings many years ago.

This is the third WPIAL playoff game between the Tigers and Little Prexies. Beaver Falls won in the 1984 playoffs, 13-6. Washington was victorious in the most recent clash in the 2001 Class 2A championship game at newly opened Heinz Field, 24-14. J.R. Ward had 86 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Little Prexies while Daine Williams had 76 yards and a score for the Tigers.

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