Bishop Canevin, Serra Catholic Win Titles at WPIAL Football Championships
Saturday, November 27, 2021
Pittsburgh, Pa. – Nov. 26, 2021 – The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) held its first of two days’ worth of the WPIAL / UPMC Sports Medicine Football Championships at Heinz Field on Friday, crowning champions in the 1A and 2A classifications.
Bishop Canevin scored 42 unanswered points, headlined by a 28-0 second-quarter blitz, to claim its first WPIAL championship since 1990 with a 42-7 decision over Our Lady of Sacred Heart on Friday afternoon.
The ninth-seeded Chargers went ahead with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter, converting a fourth-and-goal situation with a six-yard pass from Nehemiah Azeem to Stephen Greer. That lead held until the 7:54 mark of the next frame, as the third-seeded Crusaders used a Keshawn Harris six-yard plunge to tie it at 7-7.
Bishop Canevin then turned to junior Xavier Nelson to blow the game wide open. Nelson put the Crusaders ahead with 6:16 left in the half, catching a three-yard hitch from Jason Cross and outrunning the OLSH defense for a 77-yard score. Just 17 seconds later, Nelson did it on the defensive side of the ball by running back an interception 45 yards to paydirt. The junior completed the hat trick of touchdowns with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter, scoring on a 36-yard pass from Cole Olzewski to make it 28-7.
Olzewski tossed his second touchdown in the third quarter, finding Willie Banks-Hicks for a four-yard connection to push the gap to 35-7. The cherry on top came with 8:12 remaining in regulation, as Jaiden Torres broke multiple tackles before racing 52 yards to the endzone.
Nelson finished with 102 yards and two scores on a pair of catches, while adding the aforementioned second-quarter pick six. The Crusaders intercepted four passes in total and held the Chargers offense to 126 yards.
Bishop Canevin defeated 14th-seeded Burgettstown (49-6), 11th-seeded Shenango (31-13), and second-seeded Cornell (24-7) en route to Heinz Field. The Chargers topped three higher seeds on their way to Heinz Field, beating eighth-seeded Greensburg Central Catholic (28-8), top-seeded Clairton (29-15), and fifth-seeded Rochester (14-13).
This is the second WPIAL football title for the Crusaders, who previously won 21-20 over Washington in the 1990 2A championship game.
Bishop Canevin, now boasting a 13-1 overall record, will enter the PIAA 1A Football Championships in the semifinal round on Dec. 3-4 against District 9 champion Redbank Valley.
A dominant effort by the Serra Catholic defense helped lift it to a 35-12 win over Beaver Falls in the Friday doubleheader nightcap, as the Eagles claimed their third WPIAL football title in school history.
Sixth-seeded Serra Catholic forced nine turnovers from the fifth-seeded Tigers, and scored three defensive touchdowns.
It took Beaver Falls less than two minutes to dent the scoreboard, benefiting from a long opening kickoff return by Isaiah Aeschbacher to put the ball in its offensive half. On fourth down, Jaren Brickner connected with Trey Singleton in the endzone for a 28-yard touchdown, putting the Tigers ahead early 6-0.
The Eagles’ offense responded with an extended drive, finishing it off with an 11-yard run by Machai Duetrieulle-Brooks. The ensuing extra point put Serra Catholic in front, 7-6, which remained the score until 1:28 showed on the first-half clock. Momentum swung in favor of the Eagles at that moment, as Elijah Ward ran back an interception 29 yards to paydirt, extending the gap to 14-6.
That remained the scoreline until the start of the fourth quarter, when Aeschbacher scored from six yards out to pull Beaver Falls within two at 14-12 following a failed two-point conversion. The Tigers looked to put together the go-ahead drive six minutes later, only for Terrell Booth to spoil those plans with a 15-yard pick six to give Serra Catholic a 21-12 lead.
The Eagles took advantage of another short field with 2:02 to go, cashing in with a Duetrieulle-Brooks one-yard plunge to make it 28-12. Serra Catholic’s defense added its third touchdown a minute later, as DaQuan Chatfield scooped up a fumble and rumbled 42 yards for the final score.
Duetrieulle-Brooks rushed for 97 yards and the aforementioned two touchdowns on 22 carries for the Eagles.
Serra Catholic topped 11th-seeded Neshannock (61-21), third-seeded Laurel (6-0), and second-seeded Sto-Rox (13-12) to move to the title game. Beaver Falls used wins over 12th-seeded Western Beaver (42-8), 13th-seeded New Brighton (40-0), and top-seeded Steel Valley (21-8) to set up its repeat bid.
The Eagles previously won WPIAL gold in 1981 and 2007. The Tigers were one of two schools attempting to repeat as WPIAL champions this weekend, and were looking for their sixth overall crown.
Serra Catholic moves to 13-1 and advances to the PIAA 2A Football Championships, where it will match up with District 10 champion Farrell on Dec. 3.