2023 Week 16 (Pennsylvania)

2023 Week 16 (Pennsylvania)

Week sixteen was another trip to the Pennsylvania state finals. For the second year, they were being held in Mechanicsburg on the west side of the state capital, Harrisburg.

Cumberland Valley High School’s Chapman Field was the host. And though it feels like the stadium lacks the gravitas of some other state finals, it’s more than adequate for the crowds Pennsylvania gets when their games are on quasi-free television via PCN across the state.

With games across three days, I headed out early on Thursday morning to make the trip. Leaving home, I had already gassed up, and wasn’t expecting to need any gas for the trip. I got onto I-80 and followed that east to the still unbuilt interchange with I-99. Cutting across PA26 and PA147 to the newly finished mostly freeway US322 through the Appalachian Mountains to I-81 and follow that to the Carlisle exit. It’s heavy industrial along this stretch from the exit. Warehouses, truck stops, and many hotels bridge the gap between I-81 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike and points east. The school and field sit right on US11 just east of the freeways.

The parking lot for the 1A game was sparsely filled when I arrived. And I made me way over to the media office in the field house to get my credential and then get prepped for the first game of the weekend.

Going to the state finals has gotten to be old hat for me. Even with the move to Cumberland Valley, this was the second year and the novelty of a new location had worn off.I got ready pretty quickly on the sideline for the first game. For the first time I can remember, not a single new team to see this weekend.

#69 – 1A Steelton-Highspire v. Fort Cherry

This was the third straight weekend seeing Fort Cherry play. And fifth overall. I had seen them play previously before this season. First at Greensburg Central Catholic on a Saturday afternoon in 2016. And once at home against Sto-Rox later that same season. All four games they had won. This was their first state championship game appearance.

This was the third time I had seen Steelton-Highspire play. Steel-High had won both previous state championship games I had attended of theirs.

For this game, Fort Cherry’s magical season ground to a close. Steelton-Highspire’s domination jumped out to a 34-0 halftime lead and were up 42-0 with under two minutes to go before Fort Cherry finally cracked the endzone. The game going to Steelton-Highspire, 42-8.

Steelton-Highspire Steamrollers won their fifth state championship in five championship appearances.

After the game and trophy presentations, it was off to the high school for hospitality room setup in the cafeteria. There, I processed the photos from the first game and got them posted online. I was joined by most of the rest of the PFN staff, and finished up shortly before the night game was starting to get underway.

#70 – 4A Dallas v. Aliquippa

This was my second time seeing Dallas play in a state championship game. And overall. Losing their first appearance.

Aliquippa, meanwhile, were playing in their 10th state championship game. Having won four previous appearances. This was my 17th time seeing Aliquippa play. Going 11-5 in the previous sixteen games.

Aliquippa came out on fire in this one. Winning comfortably 60-14 over Dallas.

After the game, it was a short drive down US11 to the hotel where I spent a good two hours finishing up the photos from the Aliquippa game. And then getting a shower and sleep to be ready for the following afternoon’s 2A championship at 1pm.

#71 – 2A Southern Columbia v. Westinghouse

Southern Columbia were playing in their 22nd state championship game. Having a 13-8 record and winning the past six straight state championships in a row. Meanwhile, Westinghouse were in their second straight state championship game. The matchup a repeat of 2022 where the Tigers of Southern Columbia won 37-22. Giving them 14 state championships overall.

This was the game of the weekend if only for the drama. Westinghouse had the game in hand until late in the fourth when Southern Columbia went on a long drive to win, 21-20 thanks to an extra point conversion as the difference maker.

The schedule was pretty routine at this point. Between games it was a quick stop back at my car and then walk over to the high school. Process the photos while eating the complimentary dinner the school provided as hosts.

#72 – 5A Imhotep Charter v. Peters Township

This was Imhotep Charter’s eight state championship appearance. Going 1-6 in the previous seven. Their lone win was over Erie Cathedral Prep in 2015. Peters Township were in their first state championship game.

This was also my 7th time seeing Tep play. Going 2-4 in previous games. Several of them state championship games as well as a few games in the covid Spring Season in 2021. As well as a 35-0 victory over Haverford School in Wilmington, Delaware earlier in 2023.

The first and only time I had seen Peters Township play was a rare Thursday game at home against Upper St. Clair in 2020.

The theme that had developed for 2023 was that the state championship games were mostly one-sided. And the fourth game of the weekend followed suit. Tep jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half. And then went on to win their second state championship comfortably, 38-13.

After the game it was back to the hotel. The keycard had problems again. But I had time to finish the photos and get them posted online. On Saturday, the games were scheduled for 1pm and 7pm, just as they were on Thursday and Friday. Where in past years they were held at 12pm and 6pm. That extra hour made it nice to get home earlier.

#73 – 3A Northwestern Lehigh v. Belle Vernon

This was Belle Vernon’s second straight championship game. Beating Neumann-Goretti last year, 9-8. Meanwhile this was Northwestern Lehigh’s first ever state championnship game.

I had seen Belle Vernon four times prior. Only in the playoffs. First a loss in the WPIAL final at Heinz Field to Aliquippa. And the past two years victories over Avonworth in the WPIAL finals at the renamed Acrisure Stadium. As well as last year’s title game.

Though Northwestern Lehigh hadn’t made a state championship game I had seen them in the quite bizarre 2020 season. District 11 had played a non-state playoff and near the end of the season I traveled across the state to see some other games when the west side of the state lacked a lot of options. Northwestern Lehigh was playing Allentown Central Catholic at Whitehall’s Zephyr Stadium. They lost 35-6.

In this they fared no better. Belle Vernon lept out to a 21-0 lead before giving up a single touchdown in the final minute of the first half. A few more scores in the second half gave Belle Vernon a comfortable, 38-7 victory over the first time challenger.

Same as before it was back to the school to do photos before coming back for one final game. It was quite cool that night for the 6A championship.

#74 – 6A Philadelphia St. Joseph’s v. North Allegheny

This was my tenth time seeing the Hawks of St. Joseph’s. Winning 6 of the previous 9 games. First time I had seen them was a 27-26 win over McKeesport in the Rally In The Valley at Wheeling Island Stadium. The rest were state championship game except for the Battle at the Beach earlier in 2023 where they lost to IMG Academy in Ocean City, New Jersey.

This was the sixth time I had seen North Allegheny play. Going 5-0 in previous games. Having seen them only in WPIAL or PIAA championships. Winning state championships in 2010 and 2012.

Overall, St. Joseph’s were in their tenth state championship game. Winning seven of them. Their only losses were to Pine-Richland in 2017 and to Mt. Lebanon in 2021. North Allegheny were in their fourth state championship game and were undefeated in their previous three. Winning it all in 1990, 2010, and 2012.

North Allegheny kept the score respectable, but it was far from a contested game. St. Joseph’s Prep won an easier than it looks 45-23 victory over the Tigers of North Allegheny.

After the final game, I made a quick exit to my car. I had a 278 mile drive home and a quick turn around for Week 17. Leaving town, I headed northeast on I-81 to US15 and followed that north along the Susquehanna. And then US22 west. I had planned to make the entire trip without buying gas in Pennsylvania. But I stopped at a Sheetz and bought $7.50 in gas. And some sweet tea. As well as a stuffed animal for my daughter. One of the Squishmallows she likes.


For the entire weekend, I spent just $32.50. $21 of that was for my daughter. As well as $4.00 for the drinks. Since I didn’t fill the tank, I didn’t document mileage. The hotel was covered by PA Football News.

The total mileage was 563 miles.


2023 HSF Week 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Week 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 HSF Wk 16 Pennsylvania

2023 Statistics

74 Games
136 Teams
40 Stadiums
15 States

64 New Teams
27 New Stadiums

1,557 different teams
495 different stadiums

1,448 total games


Closing out the season with a trip to Texas and the UIL State Finals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

For photos from this game, and others this weekend, click HERE.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *