WPIAL Class 4A high school football playoff preview for Nov. 17, 2023

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | 6:26 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 4A, the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals, led by defending champion and top seed Aliquippa.

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. 4 Mars (10-2) vs. No. 1 Aliquippa (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Newman Stadium, North Allegheny

Coaches: Eric Kasperowicz, Mars; Mike Warfield, Aliquippa

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Mars lost to McKeesport in the first round; Aliquippa had a first-round bye, defeated Montour in the quarterfinals, McKeesport in the semifinals and Central Valley in the 4A championship game

Last week: Mars 24, Central Valley 14; Aliquippa 37, Latrobe 29

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A championship game next Friday at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh to battle the winner of No. 3 Montour against No. 2 McKeesport

Players to watch: Evan Wright, Mars (Sr., 5-9, 185, RB); Tiqwai Hayes, Aliquippa (Jr., 5-10, 190, RB)

Team notes

Mars: First it was Chartiers Valley, and then it was Central Valley that the 4A Greater Allegheny Conference champions have eliminated in the postseason. The Fightin’ Planets scored in each quarter last week and held off the CV Warriors by 10 points. Senior running back Evan Wright ran for 131 yards and scored twice, including a 15-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that iced the win for Mars.

Aliquippa: Following a first-round bye, the top-seeded and defending champion Quips jumped out early, then held on to defeat Latrobe by eight points at refurbished Heinz Field. Aliquippa junior running back Tikey Hayes rushed for 256 yards and scored on runs of 4 and 75 yards, giving the Penn State recruit 1,438 yards and 16 touchdowns this season.

Historic factoids

• Aliquippa’s district record streak is hoping to be old enough to drive to the North Shore on Friday as the Quips attempt to reach the WPIAL championship game for a 16th consecutive season.

• This is the third meeting between Mars and Aliquippa, and both previous contests were also WPIAL playoff matchups.

• The most recent meeting was in the 2007 Class 2A quarterfinals when Aliquippa defeated Mars, 42-20. Daron Cox rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns for the Quips. Aliquippa lost to Jeannette the following week in the district semifinals. It was the last year Aliquippa did not reach the WPIAL finals. The Quips edged the Fightin’ Planets in the 1996 Class 2A championship game at Three Rivers Stadium, 26-16. Rich Nartey rushed for 144 yards as Aliquippa won its 10th district crown.

No. 3 Montour (10-1) vs. No. 2 McKeesport (10-1)

7 p.m. Friday, West Mifflin Titan Stadium

Coaches: Lou Cerro, Montour; Matt Miller, McKeesport

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Montour defeated Hampton in the first round before losing to Aliquippa in the quarterfinals; McKeesport defeated Mars in the first round and Armstrong in the quarterfinals before losing to Aliquippa in the semifinals

Last week: Montour 51, Thomas Jefferson 21; McKeesport 28, Trinity 14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A championship game next Friday at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh to battle the winner of No. 4 Mars against No. 1 Aliquippa

Players to watch: Jake Wolfe, Montour (Sr., 6-1, 185, QB/DB); Anthony Boyd, McKeesport (Jr., 5-10, 180, RB/S)

Team notes

Montour: The Spartans were very impressive in beating Thomas Jefferson by 30 points last week in the Black & Gold Bowl, otherwise known as the 4A quarterfinals. Senior quarterback Jake Wolfe continued his amazing season by connecting on 13 of 27 passes for 218 yards and five touchdown tosses, including four to Andrew Alston. Wolfe also rushed for 93 yards and a score for Montour.

McKeesport: The Tigers made their postseason debut after a first-round bye with a two-touchdown victory over visiting Trinity. Junior running back Anthony Boyd rushed for 112 yards while Kemon Spell had a 34-yard scoring reception from Garret Tarker and returned a missed field goal 99 yards as the first half expired for another McKeesport score.

Historic factoids

• This is the first meeting between Montour and McKeesport.

• Montour last reached the WPIAL championship game in 2017, where the Spartans were shut out by Thomas Jefferson in the 4A finals. Their most recent district football title was 12 years ago when they defeated Knoch in the 3A finals, 42-14.

• McKeesport last reached the WPIAL championship game in 2016, losing the first Class 5A title game in heartbreaking fashion to West Allegheny in overtime. The Tigers’ most recent district football championship was 18 years ago when they knocked off rival Woodland Hills to win the 4A crown, 19-7.

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