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Adding the 2022 PIAA Championships to History

Written by: on Wednesday, December 28th, 2022. Follow KMac on Twitter.


I have always been interested in history (except in school when I should have been), and have always been interested in stats and lists, i.e., “the 25 most”; “the 20 worst”; “the 25 states with”, et al.  I see these on the Net and almost always have to read them no matter what the subject.  And, when I can work on history due to a series of events that I can research, or have lived through, I tend to dig in.

     As a result, I have developed a series of Microsoft Excel programs that can reveal many aspects about the PIAA Football Championships with a little research and compilation.

     This certainly includes the commonly known champions, district wins and participation, and also highlights the chatter about certain schools and the subject of whether there is advantages or disadvantages involved with their programs.  By this, I simply mean you can see plainly what schools have been outstanding and record-setting, along with those that haven’t.

     Everything here is available on many websites and in periodicals, and what I try to do is assemble these in one place, along with adding my thoughts on various aspects of the overall package.

     I explored a question that has not been mentioned, nor likely thought much about, and not of major significance, but as it is said – “inquiring minds. . . . ?”

     How many teams won their first out time at Finals?

     One hundred and twenty-four teams have been to the States.  How many won their first time out?  First, there are 33 teams undefeated in appearances from 5-0 (1); 4-0 (1); 3-0 (2); 2-0 (5); and 1-0 (24).  They had to have won their first game.

     Then, fifty teams are 0-fors, 0-3 (4); 0-2 (6); and 0-1 (40).  They had to lose their first game of course.

     The trick was determining whether the 41 remaining teams with multiples of wins and losses won their first game.  The search proved a 22-19 margin did win their first time out.  Thus, 55 – 69 is the record of first time wins, or .444%.

     This year the teams met in a new location after 24 years at Hershey.  Comments on the site at Cumberland Valley’s Chapman Field have been mostly positive, but as always, not exclusively so.  I thought the crowd looked more fitting than some of those lost in the 20,000-seat (I think) old Hershey Stadium.  And the turf field looked great and the praise for the package was high by announcers and pre-game show folks.  The sort of rural surrounding was pleasant on the eyes, as also was the Christmas-lit Hershey Park background the past 24 years.

     I like to see “new faces” at the finals and we had 4 newbies this season, the first time 4 were new since 2016 which was the first finals with 6 classifications.  These were Union Area, 1A, D7; Westinghouse, 2A, D8; and both 3A entrants, Neumann-Goretti, East, D12; and Belle Vernon, West, D7.  This guaranteed we would have a new and first-time winner in 3A.

     Three teams returned to finals from past years other than 2021.  These were Harrisburg, D3, 6A; Pine-Richland D7, 5A; and Steelton-Highspire, D3, 1A.

     Five teams returned from last year’s Chips and all were multiple-appearance organizations.  St. Joe’s Prep, D12, 6A; Imhotep Charter, D12, 5A; Bishop McDevitt, D3, 4A; Aliquippa, D7, 4A; and Southern Columbia, D4, 2A.

     The 4A McDevitt-Quips game was a rematch of 2021’s final.

     All five of the repeating teams have won a championship before and three did again, in St. Joe’s 6A; McDevitt, 4A; and Southern Columbia, 2A.  But Aliquippa lost its rematch with McDevitt, and Imhotep lost in 5A to Pine-Richland of D7.

     I thought the Belle Vernon vs Neumann-Goretti 3A 9-8 final game was a most interesting contest.  DEFENSE!  It was a defensive classic.  Not that mistakes and penalties did not play their part, but the defenses on both sides shined in this one.

     The Steelton-Union game in 1A was highly contested most of the way and a nice game to see.

     The 6A “no contest” was highly discussed as such pre-game, and thus no surprise.  The numbers (about 85 players), physical size, and much-discussed D1 prospects on the Hawks seemed evident from the outset.  They are reputed to, “going to be better” next year; but no one owns a crystal ball for certainties.

     Bishop McDevitt in 4A looked most impressive in their repeat battle with Aliquippa.  Talk of their possible return in 2023 due to returning players was also heard at times.

     And the Quips with 9 finals appearances (tied with 2 others) were a high multiple appearance program.  Nine is the highest appearances after the 21 of Southern Columbia (see list below).

     Southern Columbia in 2A has been at 60% of the PIAA finals (21 of 35).  It was their 8th consecutive appearance and 6th consecutive win.  They hold all of the “most” records of PIAA Championships – most wins 13; most appearances 21; most consecutive wins 6; most consecutive appearances 9 (1998-2006); most losses 8; and most consecutive losses 6 (in class 1A 1995-2001).

     The St. Joe’s Prep Hawk’s in 6A are also stringing appearances regularly.  They are the only eastern team to appear in 6A since there have been 6 classifications.  Thus their 7 consecutive appearances are just 1 behind Southern Columbia’s 8.  Because the Hawks have only been PIAA eligible since 2008; they have a 53% appearance rate of their time to make finals (8 of 15).

     Let us speak of multiple appearance teams in the championships.  Twenty-five teams have appeared 4 or more times.

Team:                              Appr.        W         L           Pct.

Southern Columbia 21 13 8 ,619
St. Joe’s Prep 9 7 2 .778
Erie Cathedral Prep 9 5 4 .556
Aliquippa 9 4 5 .445
Archbishop Wood 8 6 2 .750
Berwick 7 6 1 .858
Pittsburgh Cent. Cath. 7 4 3 .572
Clairton 7 4 3 .572
Imhotep Charter 7 1 6 .143
Mount Carmel 6 5 1 .834
Central Bucks West 6 4 2 .667
Farrell 6 4 2 .667
Rochester 6 3 3 .500
Bishop McDevitt 6 2 4 .334
Thomas Jefferson 5 5 0 1.000
Bishop Guilfoyle 5 4 1 .800
Pine-Richland 5 3 2 .600
Wilmington 5 1 4 .200
Steelton-Highspire 4 4 0 1.000
Upper St. Clair 4 2 2 .500
Strath Haven 4 2 2 .500
Central Valley 4 2 2 .500
Jeannette 4 2 2 .500
Dunmore 4 1 3 .250
Manheim Central 4 1 3 .250

  This is all 25 teams that have appeared 4 or more times.  There were 12 teams that made 3 appearances.  A total of 23 teams have seen two appearances.  And teams that have made it just once total 64.   Of the 64 one-timers 24 are 1-0 and 40 are 0-1.  That totals our 124 teams to make the State Championships.

     The PIAA figure for football playing schools for 2022 was 555; so 22.4% of possible schools have made it once.  {This is skewed for schools once around that no longer are, or combinations of schools, or schools that dropped the sport; but it is the only figure we have for the purpose.  In 1963 there were 631 football schools, which seems to be the pinnacle.  The percentage is lower actually}.

     Let’s shift the 25 most attending schools to best winning percentages for another chart.

 School:                           Appr.         W        L           Pct.

Thomas Jefferson 5 5 0 1.000
Steelton-Highspire 4 4 0 1.000
Berwick 7 6 1 .858
Mount Carmel 6 5 1 .834
Bishop Guilfoyle 5 4 1 .800
St. Joe’s Prep 9 7 2 .778
Archbishop Wood 8 6 2 .750
Central Bucks West 6 4 2 .667
Farrell 6 4 2 .667
Southern Columbia 21 13 8 ,619
Pine-Richland 5 3 2 .600
Pittsburgh Cent. Cath. 7 4 3 .572
Clairton 7 4 3 .572
Erie Cathedral Prep 9 5 4 .556
Rochester 6 3 3 .500
Upper St. Clair 4 2 2 .500
Strath Haven 4 2 2 .500
Central Valley 4 2 2 .500
Jeannette 4 2 2 .500
Aliquippa 9 4 5 .445
Bishop McDevitt 6 2 4 .334
Dunmore 4 1 3 .250
Manheim Central 4 1 3 .250
Wilmington 5 1 4 .200
Imhotep Charter 7 1 6 .143

       As seen, these schools can only be considered “elite” by falling in a 4-or more appearances class.  Eleven of the entries are .500 level or lower in wins and losses.  Also, I find it interesting that old power Berwick at .858 still holds the best win-loss percentage other than the all-winning schools.  In addition to the two all-winning schools here there are also the 3-0 (2); 2-0 (5); and 1-0 (24) to consider when listing by percentages.

     The East versus West in championship wins is a bit modified with the inclusion of various districts being shifted to the “other side” to balance the classification numbers.  However I will show it is only a difference of “one” right now.

East-West Wins by class AAAAAA AAAAA AAAA AAA AA A Tot
East 3 2 15 19 23 19 81
West 4 5 20 16 12 16 73

     Three wins in 6A & 5A by D12 schools who couldn’t be further “East” are in the West bracket.  Four wins in the 1A bracket for the East are by Altoona’s D6 school Bishop Guilfoyle, not quite in the east; so in affect the 8 official more East wins are geographically only 7.  Pretty even for 35 years of championships.

     Another interesting aspect of the championships are the records of each district within each class and each districts overall numbers and percentages.  There is a vast disparity in our districts as to the number of schools in each classification and in the number of schools in general.  D7 – 121 schools; D8 – 6 schools.  D3 – 92 schools; D5 – 11 schools.  And so it goes.

     D7 the district which is a single entity as the WPIAL is understandably the major contributor of teams and championships as a district.  It is the only district strong in numbers of teams is each class, 1A – 30; 2A – 24; 3A – 20; 4A – 23; 5A – 18; and a declining 6A now at 6.

     And D7 prior to a major challenge beginning in 2008 with the start of the full District 12 inclusion, pretty much as they say, “ruled the roost.”   D7 has filled their half of the brackets 106 of 154 chances a percentage of 68.9% of the possibilities.

     As a result, three of the 6 districts on the Western side, D5 (none), D8 (3) and D9 (3) have had little participation at States.  D6 of 40 schools has filled 13 slots in finals for 8.5%; and other than D7; D10 was the most significant western provider of teams with 26 slots filled for 16.9%. NOTE – ‘filling slots’ is used as many teams have appeared more than once; number of teams filling the slots is less.

     The East is far more balanced in participation numbers with D12 at 32.3% (different base from the rest as only 19 years in PIAA).  Both D3 & D4 are at 22.8%; both D1 & D2 13.7% and D11 at 13%.

     Let’s look at the win-loss records for each District in each classification:

District win-loss records within class: 6A 5A AAAA AAA AA A Total Avg.
District 4 0-1 1-0 11-4 6-8 18-13 .581
District 12 5-2 3-2 3-4 4-3 1-2 none 16-13 .552
District 11 2-4 3-2 4-3 2-0 11-9 .550
District 7 2-1 4-1 16-11 12-11 9-14 13-13 56-50 .529
District 2 0-1 7-1 3-4 1-4 11-10 .524
District 1 0-1 7-7 2-3 1-0 none 10-11 .477
District 10 0-1 4-2 3-3 2-5 3-3 12-14 .462
District 3 0-4 0-2 3-4 1-11 4-0 6-0 14-21 .400
District 6 0-1 none 1-3 4-4 5-8 .385
District 8 none 1-1 0-1 none 1-2 .334
District 9 none none none 0-3 0-3 .000
District 5 none none none none 0 0

     There is the total wins and losses and each adds to 154 for the 308 slots that were filled from 1988 through 2022.

     Championships won are D7-56; D4-18; D12-16; D3-14; D10-12; D2-11 & D11-11; D1-10; D6-5; D8-1; D9-0; and D5-no appearances.

     Here are the total championships per district and teams vying and teams winning.  The percentage is the total for the number of winning teams divided by the number of those vying.









Districts by wins in finals: 2022 vying winning %
District 12 16 6 5 83.4%
District 11 11 11 8 72,8%
District 2 11 9 6 66.7%
District 7 56 45 29 64.5%
District 10 12 11 7 63,7%
District 1 10 10 6 60%
District 3 14 16 9 56.3%
District 4 18 6 3 50%
District 8 1 2 1 50%
District 6 5 7 2 28.6%
District 9 0 3 0 0%
District 5 0 0 0 n/a

     If you add the teams vying column up and the teams winning up the results are 2 over in each case, because Mount Carmel and Farrell both won a championship in two different districts.  The number of championships at 154 is correct.

     A total of 50 teams have entered the finals without a win.

     I think a few observations on some district versus district could prove useful.

     Here is the total of entries in championships per each districts win-loss record.  Remember this is not the total of teams entering per district as we know of many teams with multiple entries.

      West ++ D7 – 106;  D10 – 26;  D6 – 13;   D8 – 3;   D9 – 3;   D5 – none.

      East ++   D3 – 35;    D4 – 31;   D12 – 29; D1 – 21;  D2 – 21;  D11 – 20.

     West entries at 151 and East at 157 are the exact 308 slots filled but the district-shifting between east and west in some classifications by certain districts account for the difference in count per side.  Straight on it would be 154 for each side.

     The West is obviously D7 dominant.  And while the East is nicely balanced, D12 has achieved its overall third position in only 19 years of participation out of the total 35 championships.

     I think a study of D7 versus D12 in head-to-head matchups would be interesting.  There are very few of the lower two classifications 1A & 2A in D12.

     Currently one 1A and one 2A.  There have been no contests between D7 and D12 schools in 1A.  The 2A school is West Catholic and is 1 and 1 in championship participation.  Their one win was versus District 7 in 2010.  In 2013 South Fayette D7 beat Imhotep Charter D12.  In 2A it is 1-1 D12 vs D7.

     From D12 and Bucks County in 3A was Archbishop Wood for most of the 3A participation.  They lost to D7 Thomas Jefferson in 2008.  In 2014 Wood beat Central Valley of D7.  In 2022 Belle Vernon D7 beat Neumann-Goretti D12.  In 3A it is 2-1 D7.

     In the 4A bracket, North Allegheny D7 beat LaSalle D12 in 2010.  St. Joe’s Prep when in 4A beat D7 schools Pittsburgh Central Catholic in 2013 and Pine-Richland in 2014.  In 4A it is 2-1 D12.

     By 2017 Archbishop Wood had moved to 5A and beat Gateway D7.

     By 2021 Imhotep Charter D12 was also in 5A and they lost to Penn-Trafford and Pine Richland in 2021 and 2022.  In 5A it is 2-1 D7.

     In 6A St. Joe’s Prep has been the entrant all 7 years of 6 classifications for D12.  Their record vs D7 is they beat Pittsburgh Central Catholic in 2016; lost to Pine-Richland in 2017.  They also lost to Mount Lebanon in 2021 of D7.  The 6A class is 2-1 D7.

     So in the 14 championship matchups between D7 and D12 is all classifications the count is 8-6 in favor of District 7.

     An interesting aside to this is that in 2018 and 2019 the D12-D7 matchups were in the semi-finals, the brackets being altered by the PIAA.  In four matchups Archbishop Wood in 5A lost to Penn Hills (2018) and beat Gateway, (2019)1-1.  St. Joe’s beat Pine-Richland and PCC for 2-0.  Most likely these would have been the championships if the brackets were not rearranged, and they would balance the D7-D12 thing to an even 9-9.

     District 3 has an interesting profile.  Their win-loss records per classification are almost all one-sided in either wins or losses.  From 1A through 6A they are 6-0;  4-0;  1-11;  3-4;  0-2; and 0-4.  D3 is the second largest district in the State with 92 schools and as can be seen active in all classes.  Four-A is the most balanced cell at 3-4, with unbeaten cells in 1A (3 teams) and 2A (3 teams) and no wins in 5A (2 teams) or 6A (3 teams).  The biggest struggle for D3 is their 3A cell at 1-11.     A total of five teams struggled mightily in this class with Manheim Central garnering the only victory.

     This is in no way a smear on big District 3 as the district’s Mid-Penn Conference is one mighty league of five Divisions.   It’s Capital Division has sent three of its six teams to the finals, Camp Hill winning the first-ever on-field 1A Chip.  That was, of course, in 1988.  It’s Commonwealth Division houses State College, Harrisburg, Cumberland Valley, and Central Dauphin, who have all appeared at finals.  The Keystone Division houses Bishop McDevitt that was so impressive in this year’s finals; and was there before.  And the district’s Lancaster-Lebanon League of 5 Sections shows about 10 teams that have been seen prominently in state playoffs with about half of them also having appeared at State Finals.  After D7’s 106 entries in States, no one beats D3’s 35 entries so far.

     As to the total participation and teams doing it per district here is the table:

     District/side:     Entries:    Teams:

     D7 – West        106          45

     D3 – East            35          16

     D4 – East            31            6   (Includes Mt. Carmel who was also in D11)

     D12 – East          29            6

     D10 – West         26          11   (Includes Farrell who was also in D7)

     D1 – East             21          10

     D2 – East             21            9

     D11 – East          20          11

     D6 – West            13           7

     D9 – West              3           3

     D8 – West              3           2

     D5 – West              0           0   (Total teams 2 over due to 2 teams played in 2 different districts).

     The two largest districts are one and two on the table and are D7 (121 schools) and D3 (92 schools).  D4 deserves its third position, but one school has 21 of the 31 appearances, or roughly 68% of the districts participation.

     D12 has pulled into fourth place in only 19 out of 35 championships indicating a strength in the playoffs and championships for certain.  D10 is the second strongest Western district in the numbers and so is in place at fifth.

     D1 is the district I have lived in almost all my life, of course the district I follow closely, and is the third largest district (70 schools), and the outright leader in big schools, 33 in class 6A (second is D3 with 19).  In 5A it has 24 schools; second to the 26 in D3.  From 1990 through 2004 D1 in the East ruled the large school 4A classification with 12 entries in 4A in the 15-year period.  That is 80% of the 15-year period.

     In the last 18 years of championships the D1 input has been four entries, 3A in 2007 (Garnet Valley – loss); two 4A entries in 2011 (North Penn), and 2012 (Coatesville, both losses).  Finally one 5A entry in 2019 (Cheltenham – loss).

     District One’s last win was 2003, 19 years ago.  North Penn over Pittsburgh Central Catholic.  What happened ???!?!

     I certainly cannot explain it.  From dominant to irrelevant.  But we have some factors to review.

     After the inclusion of D12 and the powerful Philadelphia Catholic League teams it is somewhat understandable, but that wasn’t until 2008.  However, the rise of Bethlehem Liberty of D11 was one of the reasons.  Liberty eliminated the D1-4A rep in three years – 2005, 2006, & 2008.  And still strong Parkland of D11 took care of the D1 4A rep in 2007.  That bridged the gap until LaSalle and St. Joe’s of D12 and the PCL began to be almost “unbeatable” by the other Eastern districts.

     Looking at the records one can easily see how it happened; why it happened is another matter.  What changed so much for District One?  I am not the only one that has been discussing this fact.

     I cannot address the subject of coaching because I knew and often spoke with coaches of the Suburban One teams in the 1990’s and just beyond.  I sat with many of them at games when they were scouting, always being courteous; asking them if I could join them and staying quiet except when it was obviously ok to comment or talk.  For about 12 seasons or so back then, my pre-season visits to their various teams practices usually resulted in a few minutes conversations with most of them.     It was one of the best experiences of my hobby; sitting with or talking to Mark Schmidt and John Chaump of Neshaminy; Mike Pettine Sr. of C B West; Mike Ortman and Bruce English at Council Rock North; Larry Greene, Bill Heller, and Craig Phillips at C B East; Mike Elko and Galen Snyder of Pennsbury; Biz Keeny, Bensalem & Wm Tennent, and Bob Hart, Athletic Director at Bensalem.  There were others that I met through knowing the coaches above that was also a thrill for me.  I spoke to the legendary Georg Curry of the Berwick Dawgs on a couple of occasions, as well as Dick Beck and Mike Pettine Jr. at North Penn; and Roger Grove of Norristown.

     The point of all of this is that since most of the above have left coaching, and unfortunately many have passed on, I did not reestablish my relationships with the new coaches coming in and no longer can assess the coaching based on such close contact with the coaches themselves.

     It would be unfair to try to judge coaching now, especially with all of the changes brought about in coaching by today’s society.  But, we all know that no team reaches its full potential without dedicated, proficient, and flexible coaches.       By flexible, I mean able to adjust to game conditions as well as conditions that may be particular to the culture of the institutions they are coaching.  It was never easy; but I think it is more complex today for sure.  And it takes far more assistants and special coaches today.  When I first followed high school football in 1951 teams had 3 to 5 on the coaching staff.  Today it is mostly in the teens as staffs.

     And for a few years now District 11 in the East is also mulling not seeing a championship slot for the last 7 years; not entering a team since the switch to 6 classifications.  It was again Parkland that made the last D11 slot in 4A when it was the largest class in 2015 and losing a competitive match with Pittsburgh Central Catholic 21-18.

     I can only access D11 teams that made the semi-finals in the years 2016-2022 to assess results that denied them a trip to finals.  In only 2016 (2 teams), 2017, 2018, 2019,  2021, & 2022 did teams from D11 make it to State semi-finals.   It was mostly a D12 opponent that kept them from advancing to finals, Imhotep three times, two different D3 teams once each; and D2 and D7 teams once each.

     Just as with District One, there is no clear-cut answer for D11 as to why things have changed so much since the shift to 6 classifications.

     And as far as D12’s Imhotep with its lackluster 1-6, .143 championship history; the team has appeared 7 times at States.  They had to win all their playoff games to get there 7 times, so imagine its overall playoff record.  As far as I can see Imhotep is 52-13 in playoff history for an .800 winning average overall.  It may not be totally accurate, but likely it is close.  The school was established in 1998 and was in the PIAA in 2004 as a D12 public school.  No D12 schools made the state playoffs before 2008 and my 52-13 record account is for 2008-2022.  Imhotep is formidable to say the least.

     Another observation I must note as I searched the Net for games to see this season (I saw 118 games) is the quality of good teams and fine football played this year in District 4.  Not the largest in schools with only one 6A (Williamsport), none in 5A, six 4A, 10 each in 3A and 2A, and 7 in 1A; I was impressed with the games I saw by Canton, Danville, Jersey Shore, Loyalsock Twp, Mount Carmel, Muncy, and of course, Southern Columbia, plus Troy area which I did not see.

     Canton Area 1A, was 12-2, losing only to Jersey Shore, and 1A State Champion Steelton-Highspire 21-28 in the State 1A semifinal.

     Danville, 3A was 12-1, losing only in the playoffs to Wyomissing, D3 by two points 19-21 in the State 3A Quarter-final.

     Jersey Shore, 4A, was 12-1, losing only in the playoffs to Allentown Central Catholic 31-38 in overtime.  The Bulldogs were an absolute scoring machine, scoring 708 points in 13 games an average of 54.5 a game.  They gave the fine Canton team their only regular-season loss 23-0, and credit Canton for keeping this the lowest score of the year for Jersey Shore.  They led the state in scoring most of the year; I have not seen the post-championship totals.

     Loyalsock Township, 3A, was 11-2 with their only two losses to Danville, a close 14-17 regular season, and 20-41 in the District 4 Class 3A Championship game.

     Mount Carmel, 2A, was 12-1, adding to their record as the team with the most wins in the State.  As they video stream all their games, I saw them all either live or the tape after the game.  Fun to watch.  After beating Southern Columbia regular season 35-21, their only loss of the year was in the 2A D4 Championship game to Southern Columbia 18-48; SC again to be the 2022 Class 2A Champion.

     Muncy, 1A, was 10-1 on the season, losing only to powerful Canton 7-42 in the Class 1A D4 Championship game.

     Southern Columbia, 2A did not have their “typical year”, but still won the State 2A Class Championship.  I saw a scattering of their games this year.  Regular-season losses this year were to Loyalsock Twp 10-27; Danville 14-49; and Mount Carmel 21-35. They were without at least one major weapon through most of the season, maybe more than one, due to injuries, but I think the losses to the teams they did lose to further stresses the good football of D4.

     Troy, 2A, I did not yet see, but if any tapes are still available may yet.  Troy Area was 9-3 this year with their losses to 3A Loyalsock by a point 35-36; strong 1A Canton 14-28; and in the D4, 2A semi-final 12-48 to a revived eventual state champion, Southern Columbia.

     Additionally, Milton Area, 4A had a fine 9-2 season, losing to Mount Carmel regular season 19-41 in a game that I saw the tape, and then in the D4, 4A semi-final to Selinsgrove, 0-30.

     This type of review would be similar I am sure in most districts, highlighting the teams with winning records, but I just took D4 due to Mount Carmel broadcasting all of their games and my continued interest in Southern Columbia also of the district.  If I can continue to find games to see in other Districts as well perhaps they will be dissected for review as well in the future.

     This year’s Championships featured only 5 different districts out of our 12.  These were 3, 4, 7, 8, & 12.  While it was nice to see D8 for the first time in 25 years, and five districts is the average of all championships; this average was established when there were only four championships a year and 11; not 12 districts.  I would like to see more districts per championship now that there are 12 slots each year to fill.

     This year we had two D7 vs D12 games, two D3 vs D7 games, one D3 vs D12, and one D4 vs D8. The following table shows the drought in district appearances.

Dist. Years since last district participation:
6 One
9 One
10 Two
1 Three
2 Three
11 Seven
5 Has never appeared

     When you take this list into account along with the hope of seeing a new team or two each championship, you begin to think how great it would be if that new team was from District 5, 11, 8 or 9, even though we had a D8 this season and a D9 last season.  It had been many, many years since we had seen this for either district, so it is rare.

     We have spoken of D1, D3, D4, D7, D12, & D11 at some length, and three districts – 5, 8, & 9 just are too small with little participation to provide much of a stir against the big, and still bigger yet, districts. Of the two districts with three year absences we have discussed D1 and I would like to look at District 2 now.

     District 2 houses 33 schools, the same number as the record 33 Class 6A schools in D1. However there are only 2 class 6A in D2, along with 6 class 5A and 6 class 3A.  There are only two class 1A schools and D2’s largest categories are 2A with 7 schools and 4A with 10 schools.

     When in 3A of the four class system, Berwick was the bellwether of the district with 7 Championship appearances and 6 victories and .858 winning percentage.  Still the best percentage of any teams with both wins and losses in Championship history.  But their last appearance was in 1997, a quarter-century ago.

     The late legendary coach Georg Curry led them in their glory years.

     He had been at Lake Lehman, eventually left Berwick for Wyoming Valley West, later returning to Berwick until he left again in very ill health.  The last information I have for him was that of 2013 and he was still active with 437 wins against 91 losses and 6 ties.  Dropping the ties his average was .828 in games won or lost.  He led the state in wins as of this 2013 date.  The Dawgs were 14-1 in 2013, losing in the 3A State semifinals 14-42 to Archbishop Wood of D12.

     After their 1997 State Chip win, the Dawgs never again managed to get to a final, but they had few very “down” years in wins and losses.  In 1998, 12-1, eliminated in playoffs by Strath Haven of D1.  In 1999, 8-3, losing to Valley View in the playoffs.  In 2000, 12-1 and 2001, 10-3; in both years losing to Strath Haven, D1 in the playoffs.  Coach Curry apparently coached through the 2005 season when the Dawgs were 7-3.  He returned to the Berwick team in either 2011 or 2012; I have no information for 2011, and he was back for 2012.  He was there in 2014 but I have no coaching information for the Dawgs after that.

     But the Dawgs continued to post winning seasons and playoff appearances from 2007 through 2019 making State playoffs in all but 2010 and 2011.

     In those years they were in Eastern Conference playoffs.  Each year was a winning record with 2010’s 6-6 the nearest to a losing season at .500.  It would seem the Covid 19 interruption was the final straw to push the Dawgs downward, in 2020 they were 1-5 in a short Covid season, in 2021 7-5, and in 2022, 5-7.   The 2007-2022 period the team was 133-59 for an winning average of .693.

     After 5 losses to Berwick (2 of which I saw), Manheim Central finally turned the tables and eliminated the 2004 Berwick team 16-13.  We mentioned the Arch. Wood 42-14 elimination of Berwick in 2013.

     As with the District One analysis of many teams from different districts eliminating different D1 participants since their last huzzah’s; it was many teams from different districts eliminating Berwick in the years following their 1990’s successes.

     We have spoken of the successes in St. Joes Prep, 4A & 6A, D12; Southern Columbia, 1A & 2A, D4; and Berwick, 3A, D2.

     How about Thomas Jefferson, D7, class 3A & 4A.  They came to the finals 5 times and won them all, 5-0.  They are the only team with that many wins unbeaten. First in 3A, they appeared in 2004 and beat Manheim Central, D3, 56-20.  Returned in 2007 and beat Garnet Valley, D1, 28-3.  Made two years in a row in 2008 and beat Archbishop Wood, D12, 34-7.  Sometime after that moved up to 4A.  After 11 years returned in 2019 in 4A to beat Dallas, D2, 46-7.  Finally, in again a 2-straight-year appearance in 2020 beat Jersey Shore, D4, 21-14, their closest game of the five.  Five appearances and all wins over D3, D1, D12, D2, & D4.  Another major success not often mentioned.

     Three examples of long-term strength of teams can be found in Pittsburgh Central Catholic of D7; Erie Cathedral Prep of D10; and Aliquippa of D7.

     PCC appeared in the first Chips in 1988 and won the first ever Class 4A on-field championship.  They returned in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015; and in 2016, for the first time in 6A.  Although they lost to St. Joe’s Prep in 2016 they were the first D7 4A champion and first D7 6A participant. A 28-year span of excellence.

     Erie Cathedral Prep of D10 has appeared in 9 championships, a three-way tie with St. Joe’s Prep and Aliquippa for the most appearances in States, all behind only Southern Columbia’s 21.  The Rambler’s were present in 4A in 1991, 1999, & 2000.  They were back in 3A for 2012 & 2015.  They returned in 4A for 2016, 2017, and 2018.  In 2020 they appeared in 5A.  A 29-year span of excellence.

     No team matches Aliquippa in this regard.  They were in the first Chips in 1988 and the last in 2022.  That is the complete 35-year span of the event.  Appearing in 2A, 3A, and 4A, the Quips were here in 1988, 1991, 2000, 2003, 2012, 2015, 2018, 2021, & 2022.

     PCC is 4-3; ECP 5-4; and Quips 4-5 for their efforts.

     Whether going home with gold or silver, the span of years is what we are pointing out for the three teams above.

     Of course, Southern Columbia, D4 has also amassed their numerous records already mentioned over the years 1994-2022, a 29-year span as well.

     The success of D12’s Archbishop Wood was a rather concentrated effort of  2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 in 3A; and 2016, 2017, & 2019 in 5A.  They earned a 6-2 record for their 8 appearances over a 12-year burst.  Their .750 winning average places them fifth in the order of teams that have both wins and losses in the PIAA finals.

     I hope readers will enjoy the basic figures, records, and discussions on the various high school football-related facets of the article.  Congratulations to all the 124 teams that have participated in finals, some many times.  We have seen some very fine athletes over the years and some great and startling on-field performances.  Lets hope this continues for many more years.

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Leave a Reply

4 Responses to “Adding the 2022 PIAA Championships to History”

  1. Kmac says:

    @mcd 65

    Thank you and it is good to hear from you once again. Very sorry to hear of your health issues as “Lil” elsewhere. I am not on that site but study it from afar. I have not attended a game since the start of Covid after 2019, but see as many video streams as I can (118 this year). Be well, and safe in 2023.

  2. Kmac says:

    @Brian C.

    Thank you for the compliment and reading my article. Right you are on Altoona with all 4 classes there for 1992 through 1997. The first four championships were 1988 through 1991 were at mostly different locations including Altoona, State College, Hershey, Shippensburg, Middletown, Moosic, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes Barre.

  3. mcd 65 says:

    Really a terrific read K Mac. This should be a book of PIAA knowledge.

  4. Brian C says:

    Awesome read!!! Only thing I will point out is saying the part 24 years in Hershey. The state title was held in Altoona prior to Hershey. So from 1988 to early 2000s I believe it was the Altoona site.