This will be a completely different season of high school football than anyone has ever experienced. Recently, in response to the Governor’s recommendation, the PIAA decided to push back the start of the season by two weeks to engage in further discussions regarding a safe return to play for fall sports. Even though there is uncertainty about this season of high school football, there are many coaches and players who have worked their tails off to get ready for this season, and we felt their efforts deserved to be highlighted. Therefore, we are rolling ahead with our 2020 WPIAL Season Previews. This year, our WPIAL coverage is sponsored by the Small Player Big Play App, which provides schools the opportunity to fundraise by live-streaming their games and events. Check out their Twitter page and get the app for free on Apple or Andriod devices.
Back in the days of the four classification era, the Parkway Conference was known for dominating the AAA ranks. For 10 straight years from 2006 through 2015 at least one team from the Parkway reached Heinz Field every season. Now the Parkway is back, at least in name. The biggest story here is Aliquippa moving up to 4A. The Quips get to reignite some historical rivalries with schools like New Castle, Montour, and Blackhawk.
The playoff format in 4A will be dependent on the State Tournament. If the PIAA hosts a state tournament, eight teams will make the 4A playoffs. If the PIAA does not host a state tournament, only four teams will make the playoffs. In an 8-team bracket, the top two from each conference plus two Wild Card third place teams would make the playoffs. In a 4-team bracket, only the conference champions and one Wild Card would make the playoffs. Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Football ELO Rankings and WPIAL Standings Page throughout the season. Teams are listed in their predicted order of finish.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 7
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 32
One of the biggest stories in the WPIAL this offseason was Aliquippa being forced to move up to 4A because of the PIAA’s competition formula. The Quips have reached the WPIAL Championship Game in an incredible 12 straight seasons, winning 5 times. Last year they fell in overtime to Beaver Valley Conference rival Central Valley. Aliquippa is a 1A-sized school that has traditionally “played up” (in 3A over the last few seasons) but now has to step up again into 4A competition, reigniting some traditional rivalries against schools like Blackhawk, Beaver, and New Castle. Senior QB Vaughn Morris will orchestrate the “Air Warfield” offense once again after throwing for 1173 yards and 18 TDs last year. Vernon Redd, who has D1 offers from Coastal Carolina, RMU and Duquesne, ran for 716 yards and a team-high 14 TDs last season will anchor the backfield. The top returning receiver is junior Cyair Clark (204 yards, 2 TDs). The Quips will once again be strong defensively after holding teams to fewer than 10 points per game last season. The defense is anchored by Paris Bunridge (who has some MAC offers) up front, Karl McBride in the middle and Redd on the back end. Aliquippa absolutely has the talent to be competitive at the 4A level and make another run at reaching the WPIAL final.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 12
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 37
Montour was a much better team than their 5-5 regular season record indicated last year, with 4 of their 5 losses coming in one-score games. Their largest regular season loss was by 13 points to Aliquippa. Unfortunately, they got seeded against Thomas Jefferson in the playoffs and were routed. Luke Persinger only played about half the season before he was sidelined with an injury last year, but threw for 820 yards and 2 TDs. Persinger will be back for his senior season to lead the Spartans offense. Leading rusher Gannon Kadlecik (701 yards, 12 TDs) also returns for his senior season. Second-leading receiver Jaiden Hill (193 yards, 2 TDs) has committed to Liberty and lineman Cameron McLaurin has some FCS interest. All things considered, Montour should be right in the mix for the conference title with Aliquippa this season.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 13
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 38
The Red Hurricanes have made the playoffs in 7 straight seasons but have not won a playoff game since making a run to the WPIAL final in 2016. For the second straight season, they edged Knoch in a tiebreaker to secure a playoff spot. Junior QB Michael Wells threw for 1450 yards and 13 TDs last year as a sophomore, adding 222 yards and 5 TDs on the ground. Wells is a dual-threat QB who is also the top returning rusher for the Red Hurricanes. He gets back his leading receiver Donny Cade (477 yards, 1 TD), which should make New Castle a formidable threat in the Parkway Conference.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 8
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 33
After making the playoffs just once in a 9-year stretch, Blackhawk has reached the semifinals in each of the last two seasons. Rising junior Carson Davidson (581 yards, 5 TDs) and rising senior Logan Calior (209 yards, 1 TD) split time at QB last season. The top two rushers have graduated, leaving Vince Gratteri (253 yards, 3 TDs) as the top returning back. Four of the top five receivers also graduated. Interestingly, Logan Calior is the top returning receiver (125 yars, 4 TDs) which could give him a place in the starting lineup if Blackhawk wants to get both him and Davidson on the field together.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 21
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 51
The Bobcats went through a rebuilding year last season with their only victories coming against Brashear (from the City League in Week 0) and Ambridge. Tyler Ziggas (532 yards, 7 TDs) saw most of the action as the starting quarterback last season. Marco Mamone threw for 152 yards and 2 TDs in spot duty, but was more effective as a receiver where he led the team with 250 yards and 1 TD. Second-leading rusher Wyatt Ringer (229 yards, 4 TDs) also returns this season. Beaver suffered through a 2-8 campaign last year but a lot of young players got valuable experience, which should make the Bobcats more competitive in 2020.
WPIAL ELO Rank (4A): 6
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 31
The Colts move down from 5A to 4A, carrying the 6th-longest conference losing streak in the WPIAL. Chartiers Valley has been shut out in conference play each of the last two years, going 0-14. Rising junior Tony Mackey (414 yards) split time at QB last season. The top three rushers graduated, leaving Socrates Boulis (who averaged nearly 7 yards per carry) as the top returning back. The move down in classification should benefit the Colts, but they will need to improve a defense that allowed 32.8 points per game last season if they are going to compete in the Parkway Conference.