2020 Week 14 (Pennsylvania)

2020 Week 14 (Pennsylvania)

This was not the week I had planned. Though with Covid, there wasn’t a lot of certainty with those plans. The Ohio State Championships were scheduled to be held at Fortress Obetz just south of Columbus. At least that was the idea.

However, Ohio, like Pennsylvania, was going through some things heading toward their title games. Namely, Franklin County had increased restrictions. This severely restricted media covering the games. And then, the next day, bumped the games from Franklin County and moved them to Massillon.

Meanwhile, while waiting on word from Ohio, I did consider some Pennsylvania options.

There was only Friday night and Saturday afternoon games in western PA. The Friday game I would’ve liked to do, was already covered. So, with Ohio plans crumbling, I decided on a few games out east.

First up, was District 11 had several District Championship games at Whitehall. Just outside Allentown. One of those games was on Thursday night. There was also games on Friday and Saturday night. Locally, there were afternoon games at Wyomissing as well as afternoon games in Altoona, Hollidaysburg, and Steelton.

There was one other scheduled Saturday night game. Though, as the week went along, that game was cancelled.

So, for Thursday, it was an early drive east. For a 7pm kickoff, I headed out at 11am for the 5+ hour trip. With a gas stop, and lunch, I arrived to Whitehall High School a bit after 5pm. Then ran down the street to Wawa for something to drink, some Mango, and a hoagie.

As someone who collects currency, this isn’t my first $5 US Note. However, first time I’ve ever gotten a US Note in change. Usually, the Silver Certificates slip through because the blue seal and numbers aren’t as noticeable. Secondly, there are no $1 US Notes, while $1 notes, of all types, have the same general design and only the seal colors change.

Anyways, on to the games…

On the way into town, I drove the ‘free’ route from Hazleton through Tamauqua. Which ended up passing me right by Northwestern Lehigh High School.

#53 Allentown Central Catholic v. Northwestern Lehigh

Zephyr Stadium is a beautiful stadium. With recent upgrades to the turf, lighting, stadium, etc. A really well constructed. The entire complex that the school buildings set on, is just a couple miles north of US22 and Allentown. The entire route crowded with business after business.

However, Whitehall is squarely in the edges of suburbia. Surrounding areas as close to rural as you can find that close to a bigger city in Pennsylvania.

District 11 did not participate in the state playoffs this year. This meant they could have a larger playoff field. Such as having District finals the same weekend the rest of the state was on the state semifinal round.

For 4A, it was a Thursday night contest on a cool night. It was my first time seeing Northwestern Lehigh. I had seen Allentown Central Catholic in a state championship game a few years ago. This was my first game at Whitehall. Other than a game at Plymouth Whitemarsh, it was my only Pennsylvania games east of Hershey.

Northwestern, as they’re generally called, just could not get much going offensively. A game projected to be close turned disappointing. Allentown Central Catholic scored twice in the first, and twice in the second. And in the third started the running clock on their fifth touchdown of the day.

A bit of controversy at the end, however, as Northern Lehigh was finally driving downfield. A pass into the endzone was trapped on the ground, but ruled a catch by the official in the back corner of the endzone.

It had no bearing on the outcome, other than ACC’s goal of ending the title game with a shutout. But it did put a damper on things in the final few minutes. Allentown Central Catholic 35, Northwestern Lehigh 6.

After the game, I had a hotel booked over by the airport. Just a few miles away in Allentown. It was, for the area, quite cheap. I’m guessing the lack of air travel made the airport hotels noticeably desparate. All of the cheap hotels were clustered around the airport. So, for one night, just shy of $60 for one of the nicer hotels.

With a late checkout, I had a very short drive to my night game. So, I had some time to kill. But, I just didn’t feel like exploring much. I spent about an hour getting a steak at Longhorn, the only steakhouse I found that was open without being ridiculously priced. I watched part of the OHSAA championship game on my tablet.

Then, it was a meandering drive to my night game.

Parkland had won the 4A state title back in 2002. As a 4A school. And were just a few miles west of Whitehall. However, there was a drastic difference in surroundings. Parkland is entirely rural around the stadium and elementary school in Orefield. Though the High School (which is built to look like the Millenium Falcon) has an Allentown mailing address.

#54 Parkland v. Bethlehem Liberty

The game was played outside the playoff format of District 11. Parkland was hosting Liberty. In a matchup projected to be entirely one-sided. And, then, it wasn’t.

Parkland scored first, but Liberty answered it. In the second quarter, all Parkland could muster was a single touchdown. But, Liberty would score in the first play of the third quarter. A 68 yard pass over the middle to a completely uncovered receiver who raced the rest of the way in for a tying touchdown.

However, the high would be short-lived, as Parkland would rattle off two more touchdowns of their own. And then, in the fourth, two more. And a field goal to add the cherry on top to end their season.

My original plans were to see an afternoon game and then a night game. The only options were basically in Whitehall and one in West Perry. Northwest of Hershey.

The lone afternoon game, then, would be at Steelton, between Steelton-Highspire and Bishop Guilfoyle. But, for personal reasons, I had to cut my night short and wanted to find just one afternoon game. I had already done a Bishop Guilfoyle game earlier this year when they played at Conemaugh Valley.

So, instead, the Saturday options were between Altoona hosting the Erie McDowell-Central York game, and Hollidaysburg with the Pine-Richland and Governor Mifflin game.

With a camera crew at Altoona, it was an easy decision to cover the Hollidaysburg game. Either way, one of the two games would have a new team for me to see.

Just a short three hour drive from Allentown to Hollidaysburg via State College. Again, shunpiking the PA Turnpike and its $9.30 EZ Pass toll.

I stopped at a Wawa post-game, and then drove toward State College. Along the way, before the newly built stretch of US322, I called it a night at one of the stops along the way.

In the morning, it was on to Altoona. A stop at Sheetz. And an impromptu drive by Bishop Guilfoyle High School to see where it was located at.

Then, it was on to Tiger Stadium in a drizzly rain to start the game.

The stadium sits behind the elementary school. It’s quite stylish. With a nice checkerboarded arch to walk through. The only real complaint is that the light poles sit in front of the stands on both sides of the field.

#55 5A – Governor Mifflin v. Pine-Richland

This was my first time seeing Governor Mifflin play. They’re from the east side of the state, just outside Reading. Despite them being the home side of the stadium, they were wearing their white jerseys and the visitor on the scoreboard.

With the rain, Pine-Richland’s passing attack faultered early. Two interceptions, a fumble, and Governor Mifflin raced out to a surprising, 21-0 lead.

Pine-Richland would storm back, however, and cut the lead to 21-19 after failing on a two-point conversion. The Mustangs of Governor Mifflin would tack on one more before the break.

Pine-Richland would see their early comeback fall apart, as Governor Mifflin would go up, again, by three scores. This time, 41-19. But, Pine Richland would answer with two more scores of their own in the third.

17 seconds into the fourth quarter, Pine-Richland would score on a 12 yard run to tie it at 41-41. And then Governor Mifflin would go on an 8 minute drive, draining the clock, to tack on a 34 yard field goal.

And then, just as before, Pine-Richland struck quickly. This time on the ground. A run to the left side seemed destined for the sideline. But as 4 rounded the corner, there was no one that had the angle on him. And racing it 54 yards for the touchdown and the lead.

That photo, as well, holds significance as it’s on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website to accompany the article. They did not, however, use the photo in the paper. The article was photo-less. Though, the Reading Eagle did use it, but I don’t know if it’s online-only or was in the print edition.

After that touchdown made it 48-44, Governor Mifflin’s stodgy ground game struggled as they flipped to passing attempts. A 7 yarder. An incomplete. A near pick-six. Pine-Richland would hold on for the four point victory after being down 22 points at one point in the third quarter.

After the game, it was dinner with the PA Football News crew in Hollidaysburg. And then the 3.5 hour drive home. A mostly unevently trip.

For the weekend, I drove 723mi and spent a grand total of $154.97. Most of that was food, with about $60 for the hotel. Gas was, once again, not an expense for the entire trip.

Photos of the Week

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 HSF Wk 14 Pennsylvania

2020 Statistics

55 Games
108 Teams
50 Stadiums
9 States

59 New Teams
42 New Stadiums

1,223 different teams
378 different stadiums

1,093 total games

Next Week

My plans are to be on the sidelines in Hershey for the 2020 PIAA Football State Championships. With the COVID restrictions, it’s very limited, even for media, to cover the finals.

The games, due to being a few weeks earlier, will be condensed over two days. Starting at 11am, 3:30pm, and 8pm. On both Friday and Saturday.

#56 1A Jeannette Jayhawks (12-1) v. Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers (10-0)

Jeannette is 2-1 in state championship games. Winning in 2007 and 2017. Losing one in 2006. Steelton-Highspire is 2-0 in state championship games. Winning back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008 after WPIAL opponents Serra Catholic and Clairton.

#57 3A Central Valley Warriors (11-0) v. Wyomissing Spartans (10-0)

Central Valley, a consolidation of Monaca and Center, made their first joint appearance last year, losing 21-14 to Wyoming.

Wyomissing (not Wyoming), otherwise, has been in one state title game. A 17-14 victory over Aliquippa in 2012.

#58 5A Pine-Richland Rams (10-0) v. Erie Cathedral Prep Ramblers (7-2)

Pine-Richlandare 1-1, and lost one of the most memorable state final games. A 39-38 loss to Manheim Central in 2003 in a blizzard. The night game on Friday, saw the Saturday games postponed to Sunday due to the storm. They also won 41-21 in 6A in 2017 over St. Joseph’s Prep.

Cathedral Prep has a long record in the state finals.

Going 2-1 against CB West with losses in 1991 and 1999 with a victory in 2000. A win 2012 over Archbishop Wood. And three straight victories over Imhotep Charter from 2016 to 2018. After a 2015 loss to Imhotep. An overall record of 4-3.

#59 2A Wilmington Greyhounds (12-0) v. Southern Columbia Tigers (12-0)

Wilmington has one state title in 2008, a 35-34 victory over Philadelphia West Catholic. They lost to Bethlehem Catholic in 1988. And more recently, they lost in 2017 and 2018 to Southern Columbia. A 1-3 record.

Now, Southern Columbia…

Their ten victories were in 1994 (Western Beaver), 2002-2006 (Rochester, Bishop Carroll, Rochester, and Duquesne), 2015 (Aliquippa), 2017-2019 (Wilmington, Wilmington, and Avonworth). That game last year being one of the most lopsided state title games I’ve witnessed: 74-7.

Their 8 losses were in 1995-1996 (to Farrell twice), 1998-2001 (Rochester, South Side, Rochester, and Rochester), 2011 (Clairton) and 2016 (Steel Valley). This is their 19th state championship game. They’ve been in the state title game for the sixth straight year. Which is still 3 years shy of their 9 straight appearances from 1998 to 2006.

#60 4A Thomas Jefferson Jaguars (9-1) v. Jersey Shore Bulldogs (11-0)

Thomas Jefferson, from Jefferson Hills just south of Pittsburgh, are in their fifth state title game. Their 4-0 record came with wins in 2004 (Manheim Central), 2007 (Garnet Valley), 2008 (Archbishop Wood) and 2019 (Dallas). They’re playing for their second set of back-to-back state titles.

Jersey Shore are in their first state title.

#61 6A Central York Panthers (10-0) v. St. Joseph’s Prep Hawks (5-0)

St. Joseph’s Prep has been in 7 state titles now. Winning 5 times. Victories were in 2013-2014 (Pittsburgh Central Catholic and Pine-Richland), 2016 (PCC), 2018-2019 (Harrisburg and Central Dauphin). Their lone loss came in 2017, a loss to Pine-Richland. This is their fifth straight state title game appearance.

Central York are in their first ever state final.

Overall State Championship Game Record
10-8 Southern Columbia
5-1 St. Joseph’s Prep
4-0 Thomas Jefferson
4-3 Cathedral Prep
2-0 Steelton-Highspire
2-1 Jeannette
1-0 Wyomissing
1-1 Pine-Richland
1-3 Wilmington
0-1 Central Valley
0-0 Jersey Shore
0-0 Central York

This will give me three new teams (Steelton-Highspire, Jersey Shore and Central York). These six games will put Hershey as the third most games in one city I’ve attended. Only being behind Arlington, Texas (87) and Greenville, PA (56).

For more, and larger, photos from this weekend, click HERE.

For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/

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