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

Thursday, November 16, 2023 | 4:53 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 A, two undefeated teams are hoping to clear the final four hurdle of a district traditional power.

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.


No. 4 Clairton (10-2) vs. No. 1 South Side (12-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Confluence Financial Partners Stadium, Peters Township MS

Coaches: Wayne Wade, Clairton; Luke Travelpiece, South Side

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Clairton defeated OLSH in the opening round, then fell to Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals; South Side defeated California in the first round and Mapletown in the quarterfinals before losing to Bishop Canevin in the semifinals

Last week: Clairton 18, Union 6; South Side 48, Greensburg Central Catholic 21

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A championship game next Friday at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh to battle the winner of No. 3 Bishop Canevin against No. 2 Fort Cherry

Players to watch: Michael Wright, Clairton (Sr., 5-10, 180, QB); Ryan Navarra, South Side (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB/LB);

Team notes

Clairton: From 2009 through mid-2013, Clairton set the WPIAL and PIAA record for most consecutive victories with a 66-game winning streak. The 2023 Bears have hit double digits in their streak and are 56 wins away from tying the record. Clairton won its 10th straight game by eliminating defending champion Union thanks to Michael Wright’s 134 yards passing and a touchdown.

South Side: The Hookstown Wing-T has shown no signs of slowing down as the Rams cruised to a 27-point win last week over Greensburg Central Catholic. Their “closest” win in their 12 games was a 25-point victory over Rochester in Week 9. Senior running back Ryan Navarra rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown last week as South Side has now outscored its opponents this year by an average of 44-8.

Historic factoids

• This is the fourth meeting between Clairton and South Side, and all four have come in the WPIAL playoffs.

• The last time they played, the Bears defeated the Rams in the 2009 Class A first round, 61-0. Clairton eliminated South Side from the 1996 playoffs, 23-17, and from the 1993 Class A postseason, 32-6.

• Clairton has won the second-most district football championships with 14. Only Aliquippa with 19 has more. The golden years for the Bears are 1929, 1931, 1954 in 3A, and 1989, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019 in Class A. South Side has captured two WPIAL football championships. The Rams beat Chartiers-Houston to win 1970 gold, 20-12, then 29 years later, South Side beat Monaca to win the 1999 Class A title, 21-14.

No. 3 Bishop Canevin (10-1) vs. No. 2 Fort Cherry (12-0)

7 p.m. Friday, South Fayette Lions Stadium

Coaches: Richard Johnson, Bishop Canevin; Tanner Garry, Fort Cherry

2022 WPIAL playoffs: Bishop Canevin defeated Jeannette in the first round, Clairton in the quarterfinals and South Side in the semifinals before losing to Union in the Class A championship game; Fort Cherry defeated Monessen in the opening round and then lost to Rochester in the quarterfinals

Last week: Bishop Canevin 34, California 8; Fort Cherry 42, Rochester 0

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

Players to watch: Marquis Carter, Bishop Canevin (Sr., 5-11, 170, RB/LB); Matt Sieg, Fort Cherry (Soph., 6-1, 170, QB)

Team notes

Bishop Canevin: The Crusaders are one win away from reaching the WPIAL Class A title game for a third straight year after knocking off Tri-County South champion California in the quarterfinals. Senior running back Marquis Carter rushed for 182 yards and a touchdown for the Crusaders in the win last week while quarterback Kole Olszewski threw for 115 yards and three touchdowns.

Fort Cherry: The Rangers remained perfect with another dominant playoff performance last week. Fort Cherry outscored Jefferson-Morgan and Rochester in playoff wins, 92-16. In registering the team’s fourth shutout of the season against the Rams last week, sophomore quarterback Matt Sieg threw for 98 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 213 yards and scored on runs of 1, 26 and 57 yards.

Historic factoids

• This is the 19th meeting between Bishop Canevin and Fort Cherry. The Crusaders have 11 wins and the Rangers have seven victories, including four wins in the last five battles between the two current Black Hills Conference foes.

• The Rangers outscored the Crusaders in Week 5 of this season, 48-41, handing BC its only loss of the season thus far. Fort Cherry quarterback Matt Sieg had a monster game, rushing for 277 yards and scoring four touchdowns while throwing for 160 yards and three touchdowns. Bishop Canevin quarterback Kole Olszewski threw for 414 yards and five touchdowns.

• This is the third time and Crusaders and Rangers have met in the WPIAL playoffs. Bishop Canevin beat Fort Cherry in the 2010 postseason, 14-6. A year later, the Crusaders topped the Rangers in the 2011 playoffs, 16-6.

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