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2023 PIAA State Championship Preview

Written by: on Tuesday, December 5th, 2023. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


Chapman Field at Cumberland Valley will again be at the eye of the Pennsylvania high school football world this weekend when the state’s top 12 high school teams meet for PIAA state championships.

Four defending champions return in Class 6A St. Joseph’s Prep, 3A Belle Vernon, 2A Southern Columbia, and 1A Steelton-Highspire. Three programs will be in the state finals for the first time in school history, District 7 1A champion Fort Cherry, District 11 3A winner Northwestern Lehigh and District 7 Class 5A champion Peters Township.

Last year, there were only two undefeated teams entering the state championships, Westinghouse and Aliquippa. This year, eight of the 12 teams involved in the state championships are undefeated: Peters Township (15-0), Imhotep Charter (14-0), Aliquippa (13-0), Dallas (15-0), Northwestern Lehigh (15-0), Westinghouse (13-0), Fort Cherry (15-0) and Steelton-Highspire (15-0). Of the six games being played, there are three matchups that will feature undefeated teams: Class 5A (Peters Township-Imhotep Charter), Class 4A (Aliquippa-Dallas) and Class A (Fort Cherry-Steelton-Highspire). Four teams will be vying for its first state championship in school history: Fort Cherry (A1), Westinghouse (2A), Northwestern Lehigh (3A) and Peters Township (5A).

There will be only one rematch from last year, which comes in the Class 2A title game between Westinghouse and Southern Columbia.

Some other interesting storylines involve Southern Columbia coaching legend Jim Roth and the Tigers going for their seventh-straight state title (and all-time high 14th overall) at Class 2A, and Aliquippa looking to become the first team in the storied history of the Quips to become the first undefeated state champion after failing to do so last year in losing to Bishop McDevitt in the state finals.

At Class 6A, Philadelphia heavyweight St. Joseph’s Prep keeps stomping everything in its path. This may be one of the greatest Hawks’ teams in the deep history of the program. St. Joe’s Prep will be making its eighth-straight championship appearance, going for its fifth state title in six years, and its eighth state title overall in the last 11 years. The Hawks top the list of large school state champions (7—two at 4A and five as a 6A) since the PIAA instituted the state high school playoff system in 1988. Since the 6A system was incorporated in 2016, St. Joe’s Prep has been involved in every Class 6A state championship.

This will be North Allegheny’s first trip to the state finals since 2012. The Tigers are 3-0 in the state finals. This will be the first time Dallas has been in the PIAA finals since 2019 and the second time overall, last winning a state championship in 1993 as a Class 2A school under the Class 4A system.

Of the 12 teams playing in the state championship this weekend, District 7 (Fort Cherry, Belle Vernon, Aliquippa, Peters Township and North Allegheny) leads the state with five representatives, up from four last year, followed by District 12 (Imhotep Charter and St. Joe’s Prep) with two, while District 2 (Dallas), District 3 (Steelton-Highspire), District 4 (Southern Columbia), District 8 (Westinghouse) and District 11 (Northwestern Lehigh) have one team each.

2023 PIAA State Championship Preview

Class 1A

Class 2A

Class 3A

Class 4A

Class 5A

Class 6A

Joseph Santoliquito is a hall-of-fame, award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito [].

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

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