WPIAL Class 4A football championship preview: Aliquippa vs. McKeesport

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023 | 9:55 PM


Two storied programs will clash in the final game of the day Friday at Acrisure Stadium on the North Shore of Pittsburgh in the Class 4A championship game.

Undefeated and top-seeded Aliquippa will battle the No. 2 seed, once-beaten McKeesport.

This is the 43rd season of Class 4A football in the WPIAL.

Mt. Lebanon won the first 4A crown when it defeated rival Bethel Park to win the 1980 championship, 30-14.

The winner of this year’s WPIAL 4A championship game will play in the PIAA semifinals on Dec. 1 or 2 against the winner of the game between District 4 champion Selinsgrove (12-0-1) and District 6 winner Juniata (8-5).

To prepare you for the 4A championship football game Friday night, we open up a fresh tin of WPIAL football championship factoids.

However, first, let’s acknowledge some championship anniversaries from Class 4A.

40 years ago: There were two 4A champions crowned by the district in 1983. In Division 1, Mt. Lebanon blanked North Allegheny, 7-0. In the Division II finals, Plum edged New Castle, 10-6.

30 years ago: Led by a freshman running back named LaVar Arrington, North Hills defeated Upper St. Clair in the 1993 Quad-A finals on the turf of Three Rivers Stadium, 21-14. Arrington, who looked like a man playing with boys as a ninth grader, rushed for 99 yards in the win.

25 years ago: New Castle captured its 11th WPIAL football title and its first in nearly 20 years when it edged North Allegheny, 14-7, to win the 1998 Class 4A crown. It is still the most recent football championship for the Red Hurricane.

10 years ago: Ten years ago, Central Catholic captured its fourth district 4A title in 2013 with a three-touchdown victory over Woodland Hills, 27-7. The game was the final championship game for Wolverines WPIAL Hall of Fame head coach, George Novak.

Five years ago: There was upset in the air on the North Shore as South Fayette stunned Thomas Jefferson in the 2018 3A title game, 31-24. Lions quarterback Jamie Diven threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns. The result was the only thing preventing Thomas Jefferson from winning five straight district 4A championships after it won gold in 2016 and 2017 and again in 2019 and 2020.

WPIAL Class 4A championship

McKeesport Tigers (11-1) vs. Aliquippa Quips (11-0)

8 p.m. Friday, Acrisure Stadium

• The WPIAL record for consecutive championship game appearances is now old enough to drive to the North Shore. Aliquippa is playing in the district title game for a 16th consecutive season. In their 15 previous trips — some in 2A, some in 3A and recently in 4A — the Quips are a combined 7-8 in those title games, including 2-1 in Class 4A finals.

• This is the 13th meeting between Aliquippa and McKeesport. The Quips have won the last three and now lead the series, 7-5.

• This is the third straight year the Quips and Tigers have met in the WPIAL 4A playoffs. In the 2021 semifinals, Quentin Goode connected with Jayce Williams on a touchdown pass in the second overtime as Alquippa beat McKeesport in a postseason classic, 27-21, in double OT. In the 2022 semifinals, Tikey Hayes rushed for 203 yards and three touchdowns as the Quips eliminated the Tigers, 42-7.

• The other 10 meetings between the teams came in the 1950s. The Quips’ other five wins over the Tigers were in 1951 (14-7), 1952 (26-6), 1954 (26-7), 1955 (18-12) and 1959 (19-0). The McKeesport wins were in 1950 (24-12), 1953 (20-0), 1956 (25-6), 1957 (27-12) and 1958 (12-0).

• Aliquippa is hoping to do something it has only done one other time before: win three straight WPIAL championships. The Quips three-peated when they captured 3A gold by beating New Castle in 1987 (26-14), rolling past Blackhawk in 1988 (36-7) and edging Seneca Valley in 1989 (17-9). Aliquippa also repeated in 1984 and 1985 when it defeated Mt. Pleasant and Ambridge in the title games.

• McKeesport has won five WPIAL football championships with its first outright title coming 85 years ago when it beat Johnstown to win the 1938 3A title, 38-20. The Tigers also won outright championships in 1994 when they beat Upper St. Clair in the 4A finals, 21-14, and in 2005 with a victory over Woodland Hills, 19-7.

• The first football championship McKeesport won was a unique title 91 years ago. It was the only time in WPIAL football history that the district awarded tri-championships when the Tigers, along with Jeannette and New Castle, shared the Class 3A crown.

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