Class 2A saw the biggest changeover of teams in any WPIAL classification. This realignment cycle increased the number of teams from 23 to 31. Additionally, 6 teams moved down from 3A while only one moved up and 5 moved up from 1A while 3 moved down. This year, Class 2A has moved to 4 conferences from which the top 4 teams will make the playoffs. The WPIAL Championship will be played at Norwin High School and the winner will advance to the semifinals of the PIAA Playoffs. The Interstate Conference could feature some of the highest-scoring teams in 2A this season. Defending WPIAL Champions Washington and high-powered Charleroi return a number of key offensive starters. At the other end of the spectrum, Brownsville and Southmoreland both allowed over 42 points per game last season.
This season, our WPIAL football coverage is sponsored by the fine folks at Taps N’at in Derry. Over the next few weeks we will be previewing every conference in the WPIAL and you can check out the previous previews here.
The Little Prexies are the defending WPIAL 2A Champions after a convincing defeat of Steel Valley. Washington has won 38 straight regular season games dating back to Week 7 of 2013, the second-longest streak in the WPIAL. Washington is once again one of the favorites in 2A as they look for their 8th straight playoff appearance. Junior QB Zack Swartz threw for 2009 yards and 28 TDs last season and added 400 yards and 4 scores on the ground. Leading rusher Nick Welsh (2134 yards, 33 TDs) returns for his senior season and might be the top running back in all of Class 2A. Fellow senior Daniel Walker was second on the team with 617 receiving yards and 12 TDs and is the Prexies best defensive player. Walker has offers from a number of MAC schools to play defensive back. The pipeline of talent is strong at Washington. In addition to stellar seniors Welsh and Walker, the junior class is also loaded. In addition to Zack Swartz, RB Dylan Asbury (525 yards, 4 TDs) and WR Zahmere Robinson (176 yards, 4 TDs) should also be key contributors this season. The Prexies had the highest-scoring offense in 2A last season (42.6 points per game), the top defense (11.5 points per game) and return three of their biggest playmakers. They are absolutely a threat to repeat as WPIAL Champions and to make a run at the state title.
The Cougars broke a 12-year playoff drought by qualifying for the postseason by breezing through the regular season with a 9-1 record. Charleroi’s high-powered offense put up over 40 points per game in the regular season but came to a screeching halt in the playoffs when they committed 6 turnovers against Avonworth. Fortunately, their primary battery of players all returns and the Cougars are poised for another big season. Senior QB Geno Pellegrini threw for 2333 yards and 24 TDs and has an offer from Robert Morris. Leading receivers Dakota Romantino (1033 yards, 15 TDs) and Travis Lytle (427 yards, 10 TDs) also return for their senior seasons. Leading rusher Hunter Perry is also back after running for 1060 yards and 17 TDs. This is a team stacked with talent and experience and hungry to avenge their playoff upset last season.
Last year the Bulldogs dominated September, going 6-0 in the first half of the season. Things came apart once the calendar flipped to October and they lost 4 of their last 5 games, including a first round playoff game to Serra Catholic. Beth-Center has made the playoffs in 15 straight seasons but have not won a playoff game since 2010. A pair of rising seniors hope to break that streak. Dual-threat QB Bailey Lincoski is a threat for the 1000/1000 club after throwing for 849 yards and 11 TDs and rushing for 903 yards and 12 TDs. Leading rusher Dominic Fundy (1384 yards, 14 TDs) also returns. Dylan Dingle was second on the team in receiving yards (211 yards) and ran for 5.2 yards per carry, scoring 4 times. The Bulldogs are a run-heavy team that returns most of their starters from last season and should continue their playoff streak.
The Highlanders move down from 3A where they were in the playoff hunt each of the last two seasons. McGuffey has only made the playoffs twice in the last 8 years (and only 4 times since winning the AAA Championship in 1994). Junior QB Marshall Whipkey returns after throwing for 556 yards and 10 TDs. The top returning skill player is Brendan Crowe who led the team with 282 receiving yards and is the top returning rusher (254 yards) and scored 5 times. McGuffey had a formidable offense last year, averaging over 32 points per game. The move down to 2A should benefit them and give them a shot to make the playoffs.
The Commodores stumbled out of the gate last season, losing their first 6 games and averaging just over a touchdown per game. They turned things around when the calendar flipped to October and won 3 of their last 4 to make the playoffs for the 7th straight season. Frazier’s 2015 run to the Single-A semifinals is the only time in that span they’ve made it out of the first round. Junior Bobby Boggs saw spot duty at quarterback last year and will take over the starting role. The leading rushers and receivers all graduated. Sophomore Kenny Fine (146 yards, 4 TDs) is the top returning receiver. Senior RB George Smalich (365 rushing yards, 141 receiving yards, 2 TDs) is the top returning rusher.
The Scotties have the longest current playoff drought in the WPIAL. They have not reached the postseason since 1979, but a move from 3A down to 2A gives them some hope for easier competition. The Scotties are just 1-17 over the last two seasons and enter 2018 on a 13-game losing streak. Senior RB Ronnie Robinson led the team with 563 yards and was second in receiving with 141 yards and 4 scored TDs last season. Leading receiver Cade Richter (250 yards, 2 TDs) also returns for his senior year. The Scotties have a number of other returning players including senior RB Chad Miller (198 yards, 2 TDs), junior RB Colt Harper (147 yards), and junior WR Riley Comforti (112 yards). Last year, Southmoreland had the worst defense in the entire WPIAL, allowing 48.7 points per game. If they are going to make a run at the playoffs, they will need to improve on that side of the ball.
The Mighty Mikes have been a consistent qualifier for the WPIAL playoffs, reaching the postseason in 18 of the last 20 years. Last season they won their first round game, just the second time in that 20-year span they were not one-and-done. Now, they look to continue that trend as they move up to Class 2A. Unfortunately, in addition to the increased level of competition the Mikes need to replace nearly their entire starting lineup. The lone returning starter on offense is junior QB Kevin Kelly who threw for 588 yards and 8 TDs and ran for 223 yards and 4 scores. His top returning receivers are Dylan Wilson (262 yards, 3 TDs) and Garrett Ponick (143 yards, 2 TDs). Senior RB Joey Minor figures to take over the lead back role after averaging 3.4 yards per carry in limited work last season.
The Falcons had a run of success in the late 90s but have not made the playoffs since 2000. Coming off a 2-win season where they allowed over 43 points per game, there is still work to be done. Quarterback Lucas Harn was the focal point of the offense last year as a junior. He threw for 413 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for 239 yards and 7 scores. Dan Grant (284 yards, 3 TDs) was the team’s second-leading rusher as a freshman last year. The top returning receiver is Austin Lincoski (129 yards, 1 TD).