2010 Pennsylvania (Week 14)

Pennsylvania (Week 14)

After the marathon last week, it was a little slower this week. Only six games in three days. An OHSAA Division VI State Semifinal in Steubenville between Shadyside and Mogadore on Friday night. Four PIAA District 7 (WPIAL) championship games at Heinz Field on Saturday. And a rollercoaster Browns-Panthers game in Cleveland on Sunday.

After watching the Shadyside-Mogadore, I drove from Steubenville to Pittsburgh in the morning. Facing little traffic, and a small opening crowd, I parked pretty close to the stadium. Getting in just after kickoff, I bought my $5 commemorative program that was basically black ink on paper detailing rosters, a plain team photo, stats, schedules, and some historical context (WPIAL title game results since 1985).

Now, for those unfamiliar with Pennsylvania, the PIAA is broken up into 12 districts. Originally, there were ten districts when the Philadelphia Public Schools and the Philadelphia Catholic League wasn’t a part of the PIAA. The districts start in the southeast with the Philadelphia suburbs with District 1 and slowly cross the state. District 10 is in the far northwest. District 3 was split up and formed District 11. When the Philadelphia City League and Philadelphia Catholic League joined, they were listed as District 12, yet both are run independently of eachother. Their two champions play eachother in the District Championship in a bit of a “Public vs. Private” battle. In western Pennsylvania, the three districts are District 10 in the northwest, District 7 in the southwest, and District 8 is the Pittsburgh City League (currently has 9 teams). District 7 is entirely the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, which has been in existence for a long time. Their four title games have been played at Heinz Field or Three Rivers Stadium since the mid-80s.

There is a move afoot in the PIAA to move from four classifications to six and the WPIAL is staunchly opposed, as they wouldn’t be able to host their title games at Heinz Field due to cost of renting the venue for two days (and the Steelers have expressed concern over two more games being played on their already decrepit turf). This has led the WPIAL to hold an informal poll amongst their members and the majority approve leaving the PIAA if forced to six classifications.

Another backstory to the PIAA is that, along with Minnesota and Wisconsin that I noted last year, schools can combine their sports together and play as consolidated teams. The plan to shift District 8 into District 7 (WPIAL) would coincide with two city schools closing, and consolidating the sports teams of several other schools together down to five ‘teams’ that would play in the WPIAL.

The WPIAL insists on all their title games being played on the same weekend to play all games at Heinz Field despite the inequity involved. The WPIAL has 27 AAAA schools, 31 AAA schools, 34 in AA, and and 34 in A. This is a little better than in years past when there were 24 AAAA schools and 41 in AA. But, all divisions get 16 playoff teams. So, 16 of 27 in 4A still make the playoffs every year. With four conferences, the top four in each conference qualify.

The stadium needs no description. The field is horrible, as per usual. The turf inside the high school hashmarks was nonexistent. Just dirt, clumps of dead sod, and what can be best described as a sandlot. The only gate open was on the southside, Gate A, facing the Allegheny River on the open end. To my surprise after sitting on the ‘home’ side (which is counter to the NFL setup), the main side had the regular food venders. Primanti Bros., Papa Duke’s Gyros, and Quaker Steak. Much better than the crap Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Pretzels, etc.

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t take anything to note the games other than my cell phone and on Sunday before the Browns game, my cell phone decided to take a bath. After drying out, my phone had lost data that I thought had been saved. So, for these recaps, I’m going to skim the scoresheets and remark with what I can remember of the scores and what led to them.

WPIAL Class 1A – Clairton (12-0) vs. Rochester (12-0)

The Clairton Bears wore orange helmets and jerseys with black pants and numbers. The Rochester Rams wore navy helmets and pants with white jersey with navy numbers. This game was a defensive struggle. The Bears had won three of the last four Class A WPIAL titles, and Rochester has been a perennial participant in these title games. Two of their titles were over Rochester. Clairton scored on an option that simply eluded the Rams defenders to score in the second quarter, 6-0. Later in the game, with Rochester not able to move the ball, Clairton put them away with another touchdown, and again no conversion, to win 12-0. This marks Clairton’s 28th straight win, and their third straight title, fourth in the last five.

WPIAL Class 2A – Aliquippa (12-0) vs. South Fayette (12-0)

The Aliquippa Quips wore black helmets and jerseys with white pants and numbers (a la Houston Gamblers of the USFL) while the South Fayette Lions wore all white with green striping and numbers). Aliquippa came in the prohibitive favorite, if not simply for their history of competing for the WPIAL crown in recent years. South Fayette came in and won the title for the first time in 46 years. Aliquippa had won 13 WPIAL titles (most of any school) and now have lost it in back-to-back titles. Two blips when Jeannette (under Terrelle Pryor) and the two catholic schools (Greensburg Central Catholic and Seton LaSalle) held them back recently but they’re always right in the thick of it. This game was sloppy. Mainly for Aliquippa. I remember distinctly a stretch where Aliquippa fumbled the ball away, but it was called down despite cries from the South Fayette fans. The following play, Aliquippa’s ball carrier was stripped and recovered again by South Fayette. South Fayette clinched this late with a touchdown (and the first converted kick of the day) to win 19-6.

WPIAL Class 3A – Montour (12-0) vs. Central Valley (9-3)

The Montour Spartans were fitting in Heinz Field decked out in black and yellow (it’s not gold, no matter what the game program says. Georgia Tech wears gold. Mustard Yellow is not gold). Yellow helmet with black stripe, black jersey with yellow numbers and yellow pants. The Central Valley Warriors wore two-tone blue akin to UNC. In fact, their helmet logo (an interlocking C/V looked like the N/C logo with the left leg of the N missing). Carolina blue helmet, white jersey and pants with dark blue and light blue numbers and stripes.

Central Valley is in this first year as a school. A merger of the Monaca and Center high schools created this new 3A school. And despite Monaca’s relative success over the years, nobody could’ve predicted Central Valley’s season. Playing in the same conference, Central Valley has already lost to Montour at home earlier this year. But after a solid run through the playoffs that included a semifinal win over perennial power Thomas Jefferson catapulted them into the championship game.

After holding Montour to a three-and-out, Central Valley received a short shanked punt which the return man got at full stride along the left side of the field and sprinted for a touchdown to make it 14-7. In the fourth quarter, Central Valley put it away with a 70-yard touchdown pass and a tacked on field goal to win, 24-7. Quite the accomplishment for the first year ever. Now it’s onto the state quarterfinals.

WPIAL Class 4A – North Allegheny (11-1) vs. Woodland Hills (9-3)

Up to this point, I was 4-0 on the weekend with regard to teams I was cheering for in person. Woodland Hills would prove difficult. Though the Wolverines were the underdog, they stood a good chance against the Tigers of North Allegheny. Woodland Hills wore all white with turqoise helmets with black Princeton winged helmets. North Allegheny wore all black with yellow stripes and white numbers.

Woodland Hills came in as the defending WPIAL 4A champion and North Allegheny came in as the team to only win it once before. North Allegheny slogged out to a 21-0 lead at the half and it didn’t’ look good for Woody High. In the second half, Woodland Hills got a long 46-yard touchdown pass and then a 26-yard break-away run for a touchdown to make it 21-14. Woodland Hills had the ball late, but dumb decisions by their quarterback did them no favors. With less than a minute left, needing huge chunks of yards and having no timeouts, Woodland Hills’ QB ran up the middle for little yardage that ate up almost 20 seconds before the ball was spiked on the next down. With penalties and the like, Woodland Hills faced insurmountable odds on and failed to convert a fourth down. This put an end to Woody High’s quest for a seventh WPIAL title and gave North Allegheny passage into the state playoffs, 21-14.

Now, for the event themselves. Fan support was decent throughout. Only the lower bowl from the open end to the opposite 20 yard line was open to fans. North Allegheny did a great job packing their side of the field. Woodland Hills’ crowd was disappointing. This, after all, was North Allegheny’s first trip in several years so the atmosphere was palpable on their side. Woodland Hills had made title game appearances a rather consistent occurrence.

The ticket was cheap, only $10 for all four games. Unlike Minneapolis, there was no in-out privileges and required splurging on stadium food. Luckily, the ‘good’ food vendors at Heinz Field were open. Between the 1A and 2A games, I had a Cheesesteak from Primanti Bros. Given my general disdain for Pittsburgh as a whole, I do enjoy the Primanti Bros. sandwich concept. Although, this one was one of the worst I have had (probably because it was at the stadium). For those unfamiliar, Primanti Bros. sandwiches come with dry coleslaw and french fries on the sandwich. For $7.25, it was a decent price for getting something other than a hamburger or hot dog. Between the 2A and 3A games, I got a gyro from Papa Duke’s Gyros for $7. Being from Steubenville, I really enjoy gyros (thanks to Yorgo’s in downtown Steubenville) and the Papa Duke’s gyro was pretty decent. Between the 3A and 4A games, I got a dozen wings from Quaker Steak and Lube for less than $10 (I forgot the price). I tried the Thai flavored wings and were good. Very mild for my tastes and messy. Should’ve went with the fire wings. For those unfamiliar, Quaker Steak and Lube wings are a staple in western Pennsylvania. The original is in Sharon, PA; less than 20 miles from where I grew up. They have some great wings. And they don’t have little tiny chicken wings, either.

For the game in general and the fans, they were good. My wife and a few friends said I was risking it by wearing my Browns jacket to the game. I got a few comments, but nothing overt. Mostly, I think, because I’m rather imposing in person. And, considering I’ve been to many Browns games in Pittsburgh that I’ve set the bar quite high to what point I consider Stiller fan taunting excessive. Mostly, they’re harmless.

After the game, I drove up to my parents and spent the night there. In the morning, I got my father ready for the all day excursion to Cleveland for the Browns-Panthers game. One of the gameday rituals I have is stopping in Solon and getting sushi.

Now, for news and notes from around the country.

Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Utah have all finished their seasons for the year.

South Carolina

1A-D1 and 1A-D2 title games were this past weekend in Columbia at Benedict College. Abbeville won 42-13 over Bamberg-Ehrhardt in 1A-D1. Scott’s Branch beat Williston-Elko 34-32 to win 1A-D2. The other four titles are this week at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia.

12/3 2000 4A-D2 Northwestern vs. Greenwood
12/3 1200 4A-D1 Dorman vs. Byrnes
12/4 1500 2A Dillon vs. Central
12/4 1800 3A Myrtle Beach vs. South Pointe


All title games were played at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis this past weekend. Rockhurst was the Kansas City school who beat Blue Springs the week after I saw Blue Springs crush Raymore-Peculiar.

D6 Rockhurst 10, Hazelwood Central 7
D5 Lee’s Summit West 44, Webster Groves 21
D4 Webb City 56, Warrenton 7
D3 Richmond 21, John Burroughs 20
D2 Penney 34, Maplewood-Richmond Heights 13
D1 Valle Catholic 22, Westran 21 (OT)
8M Mound City 46, St. Joseph Christian 18


After seeing the twelve semifinals, there were six title games this week at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I was disappointed with some of the outcomes, especially in 5A after Wayzata’s fan conduct during an injury to a Mounds View player.

6M Cromwell 49, Lanesboro 42
1A New Ulm Cathedral 19, Barnesville 13
2A Caledonia 28, Triton 7
3A Rochester Lourdes 41, Holy Family Catholic 13
4A Totino-Grace 34, Rogers 14
5A Wayzata 31, Rosemount 14


The CIF-Southern Section just finished their quarterfinal games this past weekend and are setup for their semifinals this upcoming weekend. With too many games to mention, I’ll gloss over this part. The CIF-SS title games will be the weekend of 12/10-12/11.


The only regular season non-Ohio team I’ve seen play this year that is still chugging along is Meridian, who beat Oak Grove in the state semifinals in 6A to setup a matchup with nationally ranked South Panola. Their game will be at 7pm on Friday night, 12/3.

12/3 1100 1A Durant (14-0) vs. Mount Olive (10-4)
12/3 1500 2A calhoun City (15-0) vs. Lumberton (13-1)
12/3 1900 6A South Panola (14-0) vs. Meridian (14-0)

12/4 1100 3A Aberdeen (14-1) vs. Forest (14-0)
12/4 1500 4A Lafayette (15-0) vs. North Pike (14-1)
12/4 1900 West Point (13-1) vs. Brookhaven (9-4)


Texas is still in the heart of their playoffs. Most of the state is in the quarterfinals while 6-Man and 3A-D1 is in the semifinals. The Texas private leagues are staging their championship games this weekend. All games are on Saturday at three locations: Killeen, Temple, and Moody.

D1 Fort Worth Nolan Catholic vs. Plano Prestonwood
D2 Fort Worth Christian vs. Dallas Parish Episcopal
D3 Bullard Brook Hill vs. Austin Regents
D4 Colleyville Covenant vs. Shiner St. Paul
6M-D1 Dallas The Covenant vs. Bulverde Bracken
6M-D2 Dallas Tyler Street vs. Brenham Christian


And finally back to Pennsylvania. With the WPIAL finished, the state heads into the quarterfinal round. Again, Pennsylvania doesn’t seem to grasp the whole idea of ‘neutral site’. Cathedral Prep gets a veritable home game, while other games have huge inequities in participant travel.

Class AAAA
North Allegheny (12-1) vs. State College (7-6)
Red Lion (10-3) vs. Cumberland Valley (11-2) (at Hersheypark Stadium)

Neshaminy (12-1) vs. North Penn (12-1)
LaSalle (11-1) vs. Easton (12-2)

Class AAA
Erie Cathedral Prep (8-4) vs. Central Valley (10-3) (at Erie Veterans Memorial Stadium)
Cocalico (8-5) vs. Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt (11-2) (at Hersheypark Stadium)

Allentown Central Catholic (13-0) vs. Clearfield (13-0)
Strath Haven (12-1) vs. Archbishop Wood (12-0)

Class AA
South Fayette (13-0) vs. Brockway (12-0)
Sharon (11-2) vs. Forest Hills (12-1) (at N. Kerr Thompson Stadium, Slippery Rock U.)

Northern Lehigh (13-0) vs. West Catholic (10-2)
Trinity (12-1) vs. Lewisburg (13-0) (at Hersheypark Stadium)

Class A
North Star (9-3) vs. Clairton (13-0)
Curwensville (11-1) vs. Farrell (12-1)

Bishop Carroll (10-2) vs. Holy Name (11-1)
Riverside (12-1) vs. Schuylkill Haven (11-2)

The teams I’m keeping tabs on are the four WPIAL participants and the three District 10 champions (Farrell, Sharon, and Cathedral Prep).

This upcoming week I’ll be in Canton and Massillon for the OHSAA title games. This will be the second time this year to see both Akron Buchtel and Huber Heights Wayne.

After this upcoming week, I don’t know what my general plans are. I’ll be in Ohio in late December for the Browns-Ravens and Browns-Steelers games. Other than that, the next two weekends are very much in doubt that I’ll get to see a game. It would require me to be in California, Texas, Florida or Pennsylvania to have any real shot at seeing another high school game the rest of the way. I’d love to see the UIL title games in Texas.

But, it’s been a fun year so far. I will recap next week with a brief recap of the OHSAA titles with the news from around the country.

So far I’m at 44 high school games and counting. After this upcoming weekend, I’ll be at 50 games on the year. Very incredible when I started this season thinking I’d see probably no more than 20.


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