Central Valley, Aliquippa, Penn-Trafford Finish WPIAL Championship Weekend on Top

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Pittsburgh, Pa. – Nov. 27, 2021 – A three-peat was completed, a dynasty was continued, and a new king took the throne on the final day of the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) / UPMC Sports Medicine Football Championships at Heinz Field on Saturday, as Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District 7 crowned its champions in the 3A, 4A, and 5A classifications.

Central Valley scored 31 of its 52 points in the second quarter to complete a three-peat, knocking off North Catholic, 52-15, on Saturday afternoon in the WPIAL 3A Championship Game.

The Warriors are the first school since Clairton from 2014-16 to win three consecutive WPIAL titles, as they have beaten the Trojans, Elizabeth Forward (35-0 in 2020), and Aliquippa (13-12, OT in 2019) over this stretch.

Top-seeded Central Valley struck first with 4:20 left in the opening frame, cashing in on a one-yard run from Antwon Johnson. However, second-seeded North Catholic had an immediate response with a bit of trickery, as Liam Straub faked a reverse on the ensuing kickoff and raced down the left sideline 92 yards to tie it at 7-7.

Johnson did it through the air at the end of the frame, connecting with Jayvin Thompson for a 69-yard score to put the Warriors ahead 14-7. Shortly after, Matt Merritt found Jack Bible for a 14-yard touchdown early in the second quarter to push the lead to two scores.

Landon Alexander got in on the action by following Bible with a pair of touchdowns, first off of a 50-yard sprint with 9:10 left in the half, then on an 18-yard pass from Johnson at the 5:57 mark. Johnson added a third touchdown pass with 4:31 to go in the second, connecting with Thompson for the second time, and Serafino DeSantis finished the 31-point second quarter with a 36-yard field goal as time expired.

The second half had two touchdowns, one for Central Valley on a two-yard Bret FitzSimmons run in the third quarter, and one for North Catholic on a 13-yard dash by Luke Baker in the final frame.

Alexander finished with 251 yards of total offense (217 rush, 34 receiving) and two scores, while Johnson totaled four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) and 145 yards on 6-of-9 passing. In addition to his two receiving touchdowns, Thompson collected four interceptions in the first half on the defensive side of the ball.

The Warriors knocked off ninth-seeded East Allegheny (48-6) and fourth-seeded Elizabeth Forward (51-0) to reach the WPIAL Championship Game for the seventh time in 12 years. The Trojans’ run to Heinz Field included wins over seventh-seeded Keystone Oaks (48-41) and third-seeded Avonworth (7-0).

Central Valley improves to 13-0 and will advance to defend its PIAA 3A title next, entering the semifinal round on Dec. 3-4 against District 6 champion Central.

Aliquippa jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead and held strong from there, ultimately defeating Belle Vernon, 28-13, on Saturday evening in the WPIAL 4A Championship Game.

The title is the Quips’ 18th in program history, and their first at the 4A classification. Aliquippa was making their 14th consecutive championship game appearance.

Freshman runningback Tiqwai Hayes scored twice for the second-seeded Quips in the first half, punching it in from one and 13 yards out to give his team a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. That score remained until the clock struck triple-zero on the half, as Quentin Goode’s final heave found Donovan Walker for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 21-0.

The top-seeded Leopards pulled within two scores with 10:37 remaining in regulation, as Devin Whitlock cashed in from five yards out. That 14-point gap lasted all of 13 seconds however, as Cyair Clark ran back the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to put Aliquippa ahead 28-7.

Whitlock scored once again with 6:09 left, finding the endzone from six yards out to make it 28-13. The Quips narrowly grabbed the following onside kick though and held serve for victory.

Hayes finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, while Jon Tracy added 95 yards on the ground from 22 attempts. Whitlock rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries for Belle Vernon.

Aliquippa made it to Heinz Field by shutting out 10th-seeded Laurel Highlands, 36-0, and knocking off third-seeded McKeesport in double overtime, 27-21. The Leopards, who were looking for their second WPIAL football crown and first since 1995, defeated ninth-seeded New Castle (45-20) and fifth-seeded Thomas Jefferson (21-7) in their run to the title tilt.

Aliquippa moves to 11-1 and moves onto the PIAA 4A Championships, matching up with District 4 champion Jersey Shore on Dec. 3-4 in the semifinal round.

For the first time in program history, Penn-Trafford is a WPIAL football champion as the Warriors defeated Moon, 24-21, on Saturday night in the 5A Championship Game.

Penn-Trafford entered the evening with an 0-3 record in title tilts, losing by a combined 13 points across the three contests. The Warriors previously fell to McKeesport, 28-27, in 1997, and to Central Catholic (24-17) and Gateway (21-16) in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

The second seed took an early 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter, as Nathan Schelessinger booted a 34-yard field goal through the uprights. Top-seeded Moon answered four minutes later through the air, with Tyler McGowan connecting on a 44-yard pass to Ben Bladel to make it 7-3.

Bladel added his second with 10:44 remaining in the first half, punching it in on a two-yard run to push the Tiger lead to 14-3. That gap lasted just 10 seconds though, as Penn-Trafford’s Cade Yacamelli responded with a 53-yard dash to make it 14-10. Moon’s advantage then remained for another seven minutes before Yacamelli struck again, with the senior catching a wheel route from Carter Green and taking it 92 yards to the endzone.

The Tigers answered with an impressive drive, turning to Bladel to finish it with a one-yard plunge in the final seconds of the second quarter to give Moon a 21-17 lead. The senior was responsible for all three Moon touchdowns.

With 9:39 remaining in the third stanza, the Warriors netted the winning score as Green broke free on a fourth-and-one play for a 29-yard scamper to paydirt.

Yacamelli finished with 235 scrimmage yards (143 rushing, 92 receiving) and two touchdowns for Penn-Trafford. His quarterback, Green, added 92 yards and the winning score on 17 carries.

McGowan passed for 165 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-16 attempts, and provided 70 yards on 12 carries on the ground. Jeremiah Dean led the Tigers in rushing with 81 yards on 13 touches.

The Warriors punched their title tilt ticket with a 42-14 win over 10th-seeded Fox Chapel and 24-6 triumph over third-seeded Penn-Trafford. Moon, who was looking to win its first WPIAL football crown since 1998, defeated ninth-seeded Woodland Hills (21-13) and fifth-seeded Penn Hills (14-9) to reach Heinz Field.

Penn-Trafford will carry its 11-2 record into the PIAA 5A Championships, as the Warriors take on District 3 champion Exeter Township in the semifinals on Dec. 3-4.

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