WPIAL football playoff preview: An in-depth look at all 22 games

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Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 5:42 PM


The simple math tells the story.

Twenty-nine WPIAL football teams saw their dreams of a championship end on opening night. Twenty-nine others advanced to join 15 teams that enjoyed a bye week, leaving 44 teams still alive for district gold.

The postseason continues Friday with two games on the Road to Norwin in 6A, and 20 games from Class A to 5A on the Highway to Heinz.

All 22 games can been viewed or heard here on your exclusive home for the WPIAL football playoffs, the TribLive High School Sports Network. Here are capsule previews for all 22.

Class 6A semifinals

No. 4 North Allegheny (7-4) at No. 1 Mt. Lebanon (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Blue Devils Stadium at Mt. Lebanon

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Art Walker, North Allegheny; Bob Palko, Mt. Lebanon

Last week: North Allegheny defeated Canon-McMillan, 49-26; Mt. Lebanon had a quarterfinals bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 6A championship game against the winner of Seneca Valley vs. Central Catholic. The title game will be at Norwin at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20.

Players to watch: Logan Kushner, North Allegheny (Soph., 5-10, 160, QB); Alex Tecza, Mt. Lebanon (Sr., 6-1, 195, RB/DB)

Spotlight

North Allegheny: NA remained undefeated against Canon-McMillan, improving to 7-0 all-time with a 23-point home victory. Sophomore quarterback Logan Kushner continues to shine, connecting on 8 of 13 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns while senior running back J.R. Burton rushed for 126 yards and two scores for the Tigers.

Mt. Lebanon: The Blue Devils are trying to win their first WPIAL championship since 2000. They finished perfect in the regular season to earn a quarterfinal bye and a home semifinal game. A trio of seniors have led the way with quarterback Joey Daniels throwing for 1,285 yards and 19 touchdowns, running back Alex Tecza rushing for 1,426 yards and 18 scores and wide receiver Eli Heidenreich with 817 yards on 32 receptions and 16 touchdowns.

Factoids: These teams met in Week 5 with Mt. Lebanon rolling past North Allegheny at home, 51-20, thanks to Daniels’ three touchdown passes and Tecza’s three touchdown runs. That Blue Devils victory snapped an 11-game winning streak in the series for the Tigers. Those 11 wins shifted the pendulum, and now NA has a 17-16 lead in the series. This is the fifth playoff meeting between the two. Mt. Lebanon won in 1983 and 1991 while North Allegheny picked up postseason wins in 2006 and 2017.

No. 3 Seneca Valley (7-3) vs. No. 2 Central Catholic (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Baldwin Stadium

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Ron Butschle, Seneca Valley; Terry Totten, Central Catholic

Last week: Seneca Valley and Central Catholic each had a quarterfinal bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 6A championship game against the winner of North Allegheny at Mt. Lebanon. The title game will be at Norwin at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20.

Players to watch: Nolan Dworek, Seneca Valley (Sr., 5-10, 190, RB/DB); Anthony Speca, Central Catholic (Soph., 6-3, 215, LB)

Spotlight

Seneca Valley: SV finished the regular season strong, winning three of its final four games, including a 17-12 triumph over North Allegheny two weeks ago that allowed the Raiders to finish in third place and earn a quarterfinal bye. With junior quarterback Graham Hancox missing time in the second half of the season, the offense has relied on the running of senior Nolan Dworek. He has averaged over five yards per carry and has a team high seven touchdowns.

Central Catholic: The defending WPIAL 6A champions have won eight of nine since a season-opening loss to District 12 power Imhotep Charter. The Vikings have won three straight since losing to Mt. Lebanon. A team known for running the ball, sophomore quarterback Payton Wehner has enjoyed a big season with 1,246 yards passing and 14 touchdowns. Leading the defense is one of the top sophomores in the country in Anthony Speca.

Factoids: These teams met in Week 5 with Central Catholic pitching a shutout, 35-0. Wehner threw two touchdowns while senior Gannon Carothers rushed for 80 yards and a score. The Vikings have won 10 of the last 11 meetings agsinst the Raiders and lead the all-time series, 13-4. This is the fourth time the two have met in the WPIAL playoffs. Central Catholic won easily in 2009 and 2016 while Seneca Valley stunned the Vikings in the 2018 quarterfinals, 15-14.

Class 5A quarterfinals

No. 9 Woodland Hills (5-6) at No. 1 Moon (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Tigers Stadium at Moon

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Tim Bostard, Woodland Hills; Ryan Linn, Moon

Last week: Woodland Hills defeated Bethel Park, 27-23; Moon had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 5A semifinals against the winner of Penn Hills at Gateway.

Players to watch: Deontae Williams, Woodland Hills (Sr., 5-11, 190, QB/WR/S); Dylan Sleva, Moon (Sr., 6-3, 225, RB/LB)

Spotlight

Woodland Hills: Woodland Hills lost five straight before winning four of its last five games, including a first-round win on the road. Senior Deontae Williams did it all last week for the Wolverines. He was a perfect 4 for 4 passing for 31 yards, but he did great damage against Bethel Park with his legs. He carried the ball 34 times for 138 yards and scored on a 6-yard run. Woody High’s defense scored twice as junior DeVaughn McClinton and freshman Amere Brown both returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Moon: It was a perfect regular season for Moon, which went 10-0 and 5-0 in the Allegheny Six Conference. Senior Tyler McGowan has thrown for 1,082 yards for the Tigers with seven touchdowns and is the team’s fifth-leading rusher with 239 yards on the ground. Moon has a deep and versatile running attack that is led by Dylan Sleva. The senior averages over five yards per tote and has been a force on both sides of the ball.

Factoids: These two teams met in Week 2 with Moon shutting out host Woodland Hills, 15-0. Sleva and senior Jeremiah Dean each scored touchdowns for the Tigers. Even though he didn’t score, Williams rushed for 115 yards for the Wolverines. These teams had never played each other until they became Class 5A Allegheny 6 Conference foes from 2016-2019. Woodland Hills won the first three meetings while Moon has won the last two.

No. 5 Penn Hills (7-3) at No. 4 Gateway (7-3)

7 p.m. Friday, Pete Antamarino Stadium at Gateway

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Jon LeDonne, Penn Hills; Don Holl, Gateway

Last week: Penn Hills defeated Franklin Regional, 38-6; Gateway had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 5A semifinals against the winner of Woodland Hills at Moon.

Players to watch: Julian Dugger, Penn Hills (Soph., 6-2, 180, QB); Brad Birch, Gateway (Soph., 6-0, 190, QB)

Spotlight

Penn Hills: Penn Hills made its first-round victory over Franklin Regional a family affair. Sophomore quarterback Julian Dugger rushed for 86 yards and threw for 186 yards and four touchdowns, with all four scoring passes going to his big brother, senior Jaden Dugger, who ended up with 142 yards receiving. Sophomore Amir Key had 162 yards rushing and a score for the Indians as well. Penn Hills has won five straight after losing three of its first five games.

Gateway: Gateway won three straight games to finish in second place behind Penn-Trafford in the Big East Conference. Sophomore quarterback Brad Birch and his senior brother Brett had a golden experience in the 2020 postseason in leading Jeannette to a WPIAL championship. Brad Birch has thrown for 2,355 yards and 24 touchdowns this season. His favorite target has been senior Patrick Body, who has nearly 40 catches.

Factoids: These teams met in Week 2 with Gateway winning at Penn Hills, 41-13. These old Quad East rivals haven’t played much in the last decade. The Gators have won the last three meetings, but the Indians hold the all-time edge, 27-22-1. This is the 10th meeting between the schools in the WPIAL playoffs. Gateway has six wins in 1973, 1974, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2020 when they shut out Penn Hills, 14-0, in a 5A quarterfinal. The Indians’ postseason wins over the Gators have come in 1976, 1979 and 2006.

No. 10 Fox Chapel (5-6) at No. 2 Penn-Trafford (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Warriors Stadium at Penn-Trafford

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on WHJB-FM 107.1

Coaches: Tom Loughran, Fox Chapel; John Ruane, Penn-Trafford

Last week: Fox Chapel defeated Upper St. Clair, 13-10; Penn-Trafford had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 5A semifinals against the winner of Peters Township at Pine-Richland.

Players to watch: Khi’lee Patterson, Fox Chapel (Sr., 5-8, 150, QB/WR/DB); Cade Yacamelli, Penn-Trafford (Sr., 6-0, 200, RB/S)

Fox Chapel will try to outfox No. 2 Penn-Trafford in WPIAL quarterfinals

No. 11 Peters Township (7-4) at No. 3 Pine-Richland (6-4)

7 p.m. Friday, Pine-Richland Stadium

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on KDKA-AM 1020 and WJPA-FM 95.3

Coaches: T.J. Plack, Peters Township; Steve Campos, Pine-Richland

Last week: Peters Township defeated North Hills, 33-28; Pine-Richland had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 5A semifinals against the winner of Fox Chapel at Penn-Trafford.

Players to watch: Sam Miller, Peters Township (Sr., 6-0, 185, QB/DB); Brooks Eastburn, Pine-Richland (Sr., 5-10, 165, RB)

Spotlight

Peters Township: Momentum can be dangerous. Peters Township needed to win its final two games to make the playoffs out of the Allegheny Six Conference. They did and it carried over to Week 10 when they stunned host North Hills in a 5A first-round upset. Senior quarterback Sam Miller threw for 235 yards and had a touchdown pass and a scoring run in the victory. Senior Ethan Kirch rushed for 112 yards and scored twice.

Pine-Richland: After a well-documented slow start to the season, Pine-Richland rebounded from 0-3 to win six of its last seven games and earn a three-way share of the Northeast Conference championship. The defending WPIAL champions took a hit in Week 6 when they lost starting quarterback Cole Boyd, who had thrown for 1,159 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior running back Brooks Eastburn has eased the loss with an average of nearly six yards per carry and six touchdowns.

Factoids: This is a rematch of the WPIAL 2020 Class 5A championship game won by Pine-Richland, 35-0. This is the third time Pine-Richland and Peters Township have met in the district football playoffs. The first time was a 2002 Class AAA first-round game won by P-R, 56-20. In fact, the Rams have won seven of the eight all-time meetings between the two programs. The Indians’ lone win came in a 2016 nonconference contest, 32-27.

Class 4A quarterfinals

No. 9 New Castle (7-4) at No. 1 Belle Vernon (8-0)

7 p.m. Friday, James Weir Stadium at Belle Vernon

On the air: Audio on WKST-AM 1200 and on TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Joe Cowart, New Castle; Matt Humbert, Belle Vernon

Last week: New Castle defeated Highlands, 31-19; Belle Vernon had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A semifinals against the winner of Thomas Jefferson at Hampton.

Players to watch: Chris Hood, New Castle (Sr., 6-0, 210, QB/LB); Devin Whitlock, Belle Vernon (Sr., 5-8, 175, QB/DB)

Discipline key for top-seeded Belle Vernon when New Castle comes to town

No. 5 Thomas Jefferson (7-2) at No. 4 Hampton (11-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Fridley Field at Hampton

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Bill Cherpak, Thomas Jefferson; Jacque DeMatteo, Hampton

Last week: Thomas Jefferson defeated Indiana, 41-0; Hampton defeated Plum, 14-13

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A semifinals against the winner of New Castle at Belle Vernon.

Players to watch: Elias Lippencott, Thomas Jefferson (Soph., 6-2, 210, RB); Christian Liberto, Hampton (Sr., 5-10, 180, RB)

No. 10 Laurel Highlands (8-3) vs. No. 2 Aliquippa (8-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Moe Reubenstein Stadium at Ambridge

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on WMBS-AM 590, WMBS-FM 101.1, WMBA-AM 1460

Coaches: Richard Kolesar, Laurel Highlands; Mike Warfield, Aliquippa

Last week: Laurel Highlands defeated Beaver, 28-27; Aliquippa had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A semifinals against the winner of Armstrong at McKeesport.

Players to watch: Rodney Gallagher, Laurel Highlands (Jr., 6-0, 170, QB/CB); Quentin Goode, Aliquippa (Soph., 5-7, 155, QB)

Spotlight

Laurel Highlands: Laurel Highlands entered last week’s first-round playoff game at Beaver with an 0-10 all-time postseason record. Things didn’t look good when they fell behind 14-0 in the second quarter, but the Mustangs rallied for the school’s first playoff win, 28-27. Junior quarterback Rodney Gallagher threw for 160 yards and ran for 61 yards and a touchdown while senior Tahji Hooper ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns.

Aliquippa: After enjoying a week off thanks to winning the Parkway Conference, Aliquippa gets back to work on extending its WPIAL record of 14 straight appearances in the district championship game. The Quips are second overall in offense, averaging over 45 points per game thanks to the play of sophomore quarterback Quentin Goode, who has thrown for 1,352 yards and 13 touchdowns, and freshman running back Tiqwai Hayes, who has rushed for 1,019 and 12 touchdowns.

Factoids: Obviously, from a historic standpoint, this is a battle of the haves against the have-nots. Aliquippa has won 17 WPIAL football championships and three PIAA titles. Laurel Highlands won its first playoff game last week. This is the first meeting between the Mustangs and the Quips on the football field.

No. 6 Armstrong (8-3) at No. 3 McKeesport (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, George Smith Field at Weigle-Schaeffer Stadium at McKeesport

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Frank Fabian, Armstrong; Matt Miller, McKeesport

Last week: Armstrong defeated Montour, 27-16; McKeesport had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 4A semifinals against the winner of Laurel Highlands vs. Aliquippa.

Players to watch: Cadin Olsen, Armstrong (Jr., 6-3, 200, QB); Bobbie Boyd, McKeesport (Jr., 5-7, 170, RB)

Spotlight

Armstrong: In its seventh season of existence, Armstrong picked up the school’s first playoff win last week with an 11-point victory over Montour. It was the district’s first football postseason victory since Ford City won two playoff games in 2010. Junior quarterback Cadin Olsen is second in the district in passing with 2,222 yards and has a league-best 26 touchdown passes. Last week, he threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns against the Spartans.

McKeesport: McKeesport lost in its most recent outing, the Week 9 de facto Big Eight Conference championship game against Belle Vernon, 46-14. The Tigers’ only other loss was against one of the top teams from Western New York, so their overall resume earned them the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye. It gave a much-needed breather to several key Tigers, including junior running back Bobbie Boyd, who has rushed for 1,290 yards on 129 carries this season. He also has scored 14 touchdowns.

Factoids: These teams met in Week 2 with McKeesport winning at Armstrong, 24-14. Tigers quarterback Jake Miller rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown while Olsen was limited to 151 yards passing and two touchdowns for the River Hawks. This is the fourth meeting between McKeesport and Armstrong. The Tigers won earlier this year and in 2017, 21-7. The River Hawks’ lone victory was one of the best games from 2016 when Armstrong won on the road, 43-42.

Class 3A quarterfinals

No. 9 East Allegheny (5-5) at No. 1 Central Valley (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Sarge Alberts Stadium at Central Valley

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Dom Pecora, East Allegheny; Mark Lyons, Central Valley

Last week: East Allegheny defeated Southmoreland, 36-11; Central Valley had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 3A semifinals against the winner of Freeport at Elizabeth Forward.

Players to watch: Michael Smith, East Allegheny (Sr., 5-9, 180, QB/S); Landon Alexander, Central Valley (Sr., 6-1, 180, RB/CB)

Spotlight

East Allegheny: East Allegheny picked up its first playoff win in four years and only the third postseason victory since the turn of the century with a 25-point triumph at Southmoreland. Senior quarterback Michael Smith did it all for the Wildcats, as he rushed for two scores, threw a touchdown pass and even caught a TD pass in last week’s win. The victory gives EA a three-game winning streak as it heads west to face the top seed in 3A.

Central Valley: Speaking of winning streaks, defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Central Valley has won 22 games in a row. That is the current longest winning streak in both the district and the state. It has been another dominating season for the Warriors with the closest margin of victory coming in Week 3 against 4A power Aliquippa, 21-12. Since then, CV has given up 25 points in seven wins. Senior running back Landon Alexander leads the way with 1,362 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Factoids: East Allegheny and Central Valley have played each other one other time, and that was in last year’s 3A quarterfinals. The Warriors crushed the Wildcats, 56-7, on the first step toward double gold. East Allegheny also lost to old Center High School, 42-0, in the 2000 playoffs. The last time EA won more than one playoff game in a season was back in its district championship run nearly 30 years ago in 1992.

No. 5 Freeport (6-4) at No. 4 Elizabeth Forward (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Warrior Stadium at Elizabeth Forward

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: John Gaillot, Freeport; Mike Collodi, Elizabeth Forward

Last week: Freeport defeated Ambridge, 34-6; Elizabeth Forward had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 3A semifinals against the winner of East Allegheny at Central Valley.

Players to watch: Zach Clark, Freeport (Jr., 5-9, 160, RB); Zion White, Elizabeth Forward (Jr., 6-3, 232, QB)

Freeport aims to find winning formula against Elizabeth Forward

No. 7 Keystone Oaks (6-5) at No. 2 North Catholic (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Mars Athletic Complex at Mars

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Greg Perry, Keystone Oaks; Pat O’Shea, North Catholic

Last week: Keystone Oaks defeated South Allegheny, 34-0; North Catholic had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 3A semifinals against the winner of Mt. Pleasant at Avonworth.

Players to watch: Kevin Drew, Keystone Oaks (Sr., 6-0, 230, FB/DE); Joey Prentice, North Catholic (Sr., 6-1, 200, QB/S)

Spotlight

Keystone Oaks: Keystone Oaks advanced into the 3A quarterfinals for a second straight year with a convincing win last week in the first round over South Allegheny. Senior thumper Kevin Drew continues to lead the Golden Eagles ground attack as he rushed for 163 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. The grandson of coach Greg Perry, senior Tyler Perry also scored a pair of touchdowns as KO took control early with 14 points each in the first and second quarters to end the Gladiators’ season.

North Catholic: North Catholic enjoyed a first-round bye last week as the fruits of its regular season labor paid off. The Trojans finished 10-0 alone atop the Allegheny Seven Conference. Senior quarterback Joey Prentice has thrown for 1,024 yards with 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Senior Kyle Tipinski leads the team in receiving and scoring and is second on the team in rushing. NC was undefeated last year until losing to Elizabeth Forward in the Class 3A semifinals.

Factoids: This is the first meeting between Keystone Oaks and North Catholic. The Golden Eagles’ shutout victory last week was the second in school history. The first came 12 years ago when Keystone Oaks blanked Burrell, 27-0, in a Class AA first-round playoff win. After sharing back-to-back WPIAL football titles in 1942-1943, old Donora High School won the district crown in 1945. North Catholic’s only WPIAL football championship came eight years ago when the Trojans won the district and state Class A crown in 2013.

No. 6 Mt. Pleasant (6-4) at No. 3 Avonworth (8-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Lenzner Field at Avonworth

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Jason Fazekas, Mt. Pleasant; Duke Johncour, Avonworth

Last week: Mt. Pleasant defeated Burrell, 41-7; Avonworth had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 3A semifinals against the winner of Keystone Oaks vs. North Catholic.

Players to watch: Robbie Labuda, Mt. Pleasant (Jr., 6-1, 175, RB/S); Nate Harper, Avonworth (Jr., 5-10, 180, QB)

Mt. Pleasant motivated to make history in playoff clash with Avonworth

No. 8 South Side (8-3) at No. 1 Steel Valley (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Campbell Field in Munhall

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Luke Travelpiece, South Side; Ray Braszo, Steel Valley

Last week: South Side defeated Ligonier Valley, 34-14; Steel Valley defeated Beth-Center, 49-14

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A semifinals against the winner of New Brighton at Beaver Falls.

Players to watch: Parker Statler, South Side (Jr., 6-1, 175, RB/DB); Nijhay Burt, Steel Valley (Sr., 5-10, 160, RB/DB)

Spotlight

South Side: South Side prevailed in the battle of the Rams in the first round of the 2A playoffs with a 20-point victory over Ligonier Valley. Junior running back Parker Statler led South Side with three touchdown runs of 58, 2 and 63 yards. Statler rushed for 172 yards as South Side gained 321 yards on the ground. Senior Cam Knox rushed for 57 yards and two touchdowns for the Rams, who have now won a season-high five in a row heading into Munhall.

Steel Valley: Class 2A was the only classification where there were no first-round byes, so Steel Valley was the only No. 1 seed in the district that played last week. Senior Nijhay Burt continued his incredible season with 206 yards rushing on only 11 carries, four of which ended up in the end zone as touchdown runs for the Ironmen. Burt leads the WPIAL in rushing with 2,018 yards and has an average of over 13 yards per carry. He also leads the district with 35 touchdowns.

Factoids: This is the second playoff game between South Side and Steel Valley. The first was for all the marbles in the 2018 Class 2A championship game, won by the Ironmen, 48-6. Kam Williams had 300 total yards from scrimmage in the game for the Ironmen with 196 yards rushing, 104 yards receiving and three touchdowns. The only two times these teams played other than that title contest was in nonconference tilts in 2018 and 2019. The Ironmen won at home in ’18, 53-6, while the Rams prevailed the following year in Hookstown, 23-22.

No. 5 Beaver Falls (7-3) vs. No. 13 New Brighton (5-6)

7 p.m. Friday, Reeves Field at Geneva College

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com with audio on WBVP-AM 1230, WBVP-FM 99.3

Coaches: Nick Nardone, Beaver Falls; Joe Greco, New Brighton

Last week: Beaver Falls defeated Western Beaver, 42-8; New Brighton defeated Washington, 21-20 in overtime

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A semifinals against the winner of South Side at Steel Valley.

Players to watch: Jaren Brickner, Beaver Falls (Jr., 6-1, 172, QB/S); Keandre Williams, New Brighton (Sr., 6-2, 190, RB)

Spotlight

Beaver Falls: The defending WPIAL 2A champions continue to be on a roll after getting out of the gates slowly this season. Beaver Falls has won eight straight games after getting off to a 0-3 start, including a convincing home victory over Western Beaver. Junior quarterback Jaren Brickner continued his strong campaign, throwing for 213 yards on 12 of 21 passing. He also had three touchdowns passes of 37, 9 and 11 yards as the Tigers won their fourth straight district postseason game.

New Brighton: The biggest eyebrow-raiser in the WPIAL first round came when New Brighton stopped a two-point conversion run short in overtime to upset previously undefeated Washington, 21-20. The Lions needed back-to-back wins in the final two weeks of the regular season just to finish tied for fifth place in the Midwestern Athletic Conference and qualify for the playoffs. Senior Keandre Williams scored on a 10-yard run in overtime for New Brighton.

Factoids: These MAC rivals met in Week 5 this season with Beaver Falls beating New Brighton, 39-18. The Tigers have the advantage in the long history between the teams and have been dominant in recent history, winning 12 of the last 13 meetings, with the only Lions victory in that span coming in 2017. This will be the 101st all-time meeting with Beaver Falls leading the series, 65-29-6. Amazingly, this will be the first time the Tigers and Lions battle in the playoffs.

No. 10 Mohawk (6-5) vs. No. 2 Sto-Rox (11-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Martorelli Stadium in West View

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Tim McCutcheon, Mohawk; LaRoi Johnson, Sto-Rox

Last week: Mohawk defeated Chartiers-Houston, 34-12; Sto-Rox defeated Shady Side Academy, 61-8

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A semifinals against the winner of Serra Catholic at Laurel.

Players to watch: John Voss, Mohawk (Sr., 6-1, 225, QB); Jaymar Pearson, Sto-Rox (Sr., 5-11, 190, RB)

Spotlight

Mohawk: The up-and-down season for Mohawk was definitely on the upswing last week with the team’s first playoff victory since 2018. The Warriors lost two of their first three games and then won three straight conference games to sit atop the Midwestern Athletic Conference at midseason before losing three games in a row. Senior quarterback John Voss hit on 10 of 18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdown passes, plus he also scored on a 1-yard run.

Sto-Rox: Sto-Rox was playing with a little chip on its shoulder after many expected the Vikings to draw the top seed in the Class 2A bracket. Instead, the district committee put them as the No. 2 seed, and they quickly plowed through Shady Side Academy by 53 points. Senior running back Jaymar Pearson rushed for 225 yards and five touchdowns while junior quarterback Josh Jenkins threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns for the undefeated Vikings.

Factoids: The first-round victory for Mohawk was only the third postseason win in school history with the others coming in 2005 and 2018. Sto-Rox has three playoffs wins in the last calendar year. The only other meeting between these schools took place in 2000 when the Warriors outscored the Vikings, 35-26.

No. 6 Serra Catholic (10-1) at No. 3 Laurel (11-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Spartans Stadium at the Leonard Rich Athletic Complex at Laurel

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Jose Regus, Serra Catholic; Brian Cooper, Laurel

Last week: Serra Catholic defeated Neshannock, 61-21; Laurel defeated McGuffey, 41-2

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL 2A semifinals against the winner of Mohawk vs. Sto-Rox.

Players to watch: Elijah Ward, Serra Catholic (Jr., 5-10, 133, QB); Luke McCoy, Laurel (Sr., 5-8, 175, RB/LB)

Spotlight

Serra Catholic: There had to be concern from the Serra Catholic faithful prior to last week’s first-round playoff game against Neshannock. The Eagles were coming off their first loss of the season in the de facto Allegheny Conference championship game against Steel Valley, and they were without injured quarterback Max Rocco. No problem as the next man up was junior Elijah Wood, who threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for one as well as the Eagles soared to a 40-point win.

Laurel: The undefeated Midwestern Athletic Conference champions were a first-quarter safety away from registering their third shutout of the season. The Laurel running attack was too much for visiting McGuffey to handle as seniors Koby DeRosa and Luke McCoy rushed for a combined 242 yards. DeRosa gained 126 yards and scored three touchdowns while McCoy rushed for 116 yards and two scores in the 39-point victory.

Factoids: This is the first meeting between Serra Catholic and Laurel. Only twice in school history have the Eagles won more than one playoff game in a year, and they both came during championship runs in 1981 and in 2007. The Spartans have won more than one postseason game in a season four times; 1977, 1980, 1089 and 2009.

Class A quarterfinals

No. 9 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (7-3) at No. 1 Clairton (7-2)

7 p.m. Friday, Neil Brown Stadium in Clairton

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Dan Bradley, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart; Wayne Wade, Clairton

Last week: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart defeated Greensburg Central Catholic, 28-8; Clairton had a first-round bye

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A semifinals against the winner of Springdale at Rochester.

Players to watch: Nehemiah Azeem, OLSH (Jr., 5-9, 165, QB/S); Capone Jones, Clairton (Jr., 6-0, 160, QB/S)

Spotlight

OLSH: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart started the season with four straight wins and then lost three of four Big 7 Conference games before winning its last two. The Chargers have turned up their defense in recent wins, stunning conference champion Cornell, 13-12, in the regular season finale and holding GCC to only eight points last week. Junior quarterback Nehemiah Azeem threw for 144 yards with a touchdowns pass and a scoring run for OLSH.

Clairton: Clairton has only played eight games and should be relatively fresh with a first-round bye and a forfeit victory over Imani Christian back in Week 6. The Bears are turning up the defense, having pitched shutouts in Week 8 and Week 9 victories over Springdale and Jeannette. Leading the way on offense is dual-threat quarterback Capone Jones. The junior leads the team in passing with 551 yards, rushing with 717 yards and scoring with seven touchdowns.

Factoids: These teams have never met in the regular season and had never met prior to the 2018 playoffs. However, this will be the fourth straight postseason Our Lady of the Sacred Heart squares off with Clairton. On their way to a district title, the Chargers beat the Bears, 27-7, in the 2018 Class A semifinals. The last two years, these teams have met in the quarterfinals with Clairton winning both, 41-0 in 2019 and 54-20 last fall.

No. 5 Rochester (8-2) vs. No. 13 Springdale (7-4)

7 p.m. Friday, Jimbo Covert Field at Freedom

On the air: Audio only on TribHSSN.TribLive.com and WKPL-FM 92.1

Coaches: Gene Matsook, Rochester; Seth Napierkowski, Springdale

Last week: Rochester defeated Mapletown, 35-0; Springdale defeated West Greene, 28-0

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A semifinals against the winner of OLSH at Clairton.

Players to watch: Sal Laure, Rochester (Jr., 5-10, 170, RB/LB); Logan Dexter, Springdale (Sr., 6-2, 175, RB/WR/S)

Springdale aims for revenge against No. 5 Rochester in WPIAL quarterfinals

No. 7 Leechburg (9-2) vs. No. 2 Cornell (8-2)

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

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Randy Walters, Leechburg; Ed Dawson, Cornell

Last week: Leechburg defeated California, 28-7; Cornell defeated Monessen, 33-0

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A semifinals against the winner of Shenango at Bishop Canevin.

Players to watch: Braylan Lovelace, Leechburg (Jr., 6-3, 192, RB/LB); Sincere Kimbrough, Cornell (Sr., 5-10, 190, QB)

Upstart programs collide when Cornell, Leechburg meet in Class A quarterfinals

No. 11 Shenango (4-6) at No. 3 Bishop Canevin (10-1)

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday, Dormont Stadium in Dormont

On the air: Video stream at TribHSSN.TribLive.com

Coaches: Jimmy Graham, Shenango; Richard Johnson, Bishop Canevin

Last week: Shenango defeated Carmichaels, 31-13; Bishop Canevin defeated Burgettstown, 49-6

Up next: The winner advances to the WPIAL Class A semifinals against the winner of Leechburg vs. Cornell.

Players to watch: C.J. Miller, Shenango (Jr., 5-9, 175, RB); Jason Cross, Bishop Canevin (Soph., 5-10, 150, QB)

Spotlight

Shenango: It did not look like Shenango would be returning to the playoff when it lost its first four games, including its first two Big 7 Conference contests. However, despite losses in their final two games, a three-game midseason winning streak was enough to earn the Wildcats fifth place in the conference and a playoff berth. They made the most of it last week when junior running back C.J. Miller rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns as Shenango won by 18 at Carmichaels.

Bishop Canevin: In its breakout season, Bishop Canevin did nothing to hurt its status as one of the favorites to win it all in Class A. In picking up their first playoff win in five years, the Crusaders have now won five straight since their only loss of the season to Clairton in Week 5. Junior quarterback Jason Cross hit on 6 of 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown toss of 67 yards to junior Xavier Nelson, plus he scored on touchdown runs of 35, 27 and 3 yards in the BC rout of Burgettstown.

Factoids: Shenango and Bishop Canevin have never played each other on the football field before. The Wildcats are hoping to make some history and win a second playoff game in a season for the first time. Shenango is now 7-13 all-time in the postseason and has one playoff victory in 1980, 1987, 2002, 2015, 2016, 2020 and here in 2021, but it has never won more than once in a postseason. The Crusaders have an all-time postseason record of 21-18 and are trying to win the school’s second WPIAL football championship. The first one came 31 years ago when Canevin won the 1990 Class AA title.

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