After a pandemic-shortened 2020 high school football season, we are back for a full campaign in 2021. There were a number of changes that the WPIAL had planned to institute from both a scheduling and a playoff format standpoint in 2020 that were delayed until 2021. All of the schedules are now back-loaded with conference game and the WPIAL attempted to schedule intriguing matchups and historical rivalries in the first few weeks before conference play begins.
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Last year the Century Conference had a sizeable gap between the top and bottom teams. McGuffey and Washington, despite a 7-6 slugfest in Week 1, averaged over 30 points per game. Behind them, Frazier and Chartiers-Houston averaged about 20 per game. The bottom three teams all averaged just 8 points per game. Last season marked McGuffey’s first conference title since _. This season, with the WPIAL’s full scheduling and playoff plan back in effect, 16 teams will make the 2A playoffs. The top four teams from the Century Conference are guaranteed a playoff spot.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 5
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 64
The Highlanders claimed the Century Conference title last year thanks to a hard-fought Week 1 victory over Washington. McGuffey’s 7-6 win was an emotional game to finally get over the hump and top the Prexies who had dominated the conference for years. In the playoffs, McGuffey lost on a last-second touchdown pass to Serra Catholic. The Highlanders run a triple-option offense and use a rotation of running backs. Junior Kyle Brookman was second in rushing (344 yards), led the team in receiving (116 yards) and led the team in scoring (11 total TDs). He will be joined in the backfield by senior Jeremiah Johnson (225 yards, 1 TD) who averaged over 12 yards per carry. Junior Phillip McCuen may take over the starting quarterback role after seeing some snaps as a backup last year. He didn’t complete a pass, but did average 8.8 yards per carry and score 3 TDs to add to the backfield firepower McGuffey boasts. After reaching the quarterfinals each of the last two seasons, McGuffey has their sights set on a deep playoff run as they look to get past the quarterfinals for the first time since winning the WPIAL title in 1994.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 4
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 60
Washington narrowly missed out on the conference title last year, with a 7-6 Week 1 loss to McGuffey all that stood in their way. As it turned out, the Prexies had to win a Casket Match against Frazier to secure a playoff spot, which they did convincingly 43-6. Against conference opponents, Washington pitched 3 shutouts and only allowed one team to score more than once. In the playoffs, Washington fell behind Apollo-Ridge early due to turnovers and was never able to recover. Dual-threat QB Davoun Fuse (427 passing yards, 3 TDs, 306 rushing yards, 5 TDs) returns for his senior season. Fuse will be joined in the backfield by the dynamic Tayshawn Levy who ran for 294 yards, added 121 receiving yards, and scored 4 times last season. Washington should be right there in the mix for the conference title again this season. The Prexies have made the playoffs in 10 straight seasons and reached the WPIAL Championship three times in that span, winning it all in 2017.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 19
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 89
After a 1-2 start to the season, the Commodores battled back to win 3 in a row and get themselves into a position to challenge for a playoff spot. Frazier has not been back to the playoffs since their 7-year streak of postseason appearances from 2011-2017. Unfortunately, their 2020 season ended when they lost the Casket Match against Washington. Brayden Boggs started the season at quarterback and threw for 339 yards and 5 TDs before an injury ended his season. Dominick Dorcon took over and threw for 181 yards and 2 TDs. Both players will be back for their senior seasons. Frazier will have to find a new workhorse at running back as three of their top four rushers graduated.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 12
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 75
Charleroi missed the playoffs last season after three straight years of postseason appearances. That was the first time in school history the Cougars made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. The peak of the run was in 2018 when they reached the semifinals for the first time since 1981. A number of young players saw significant playing time for Charleroi last season. Rising senior Brendan Harps (490 yards, 3 TDs) and sophomore Gianni Pellegrini (142 passing yards, 118 rushing yards) both spent time at quarterback. Leading rusher Nikko Pellegrini (426 yards, 2 TDs) returns for his senior season. Second-leading receiver Terrance Woods (205 yards, 2 TDs) will also return for a Charleroi offense looking to find the end zone more this season after averaging just 8.4 point per game last year, the fourth-lowest mark in 2A.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 25
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 98
The Bucs moved back up to 2A last season and had an up-and-down year, finishing in the middle of the pack. Other than a narrow 7-6 loss to Frazier, all of their other games were decided by at least two scores. Junior Terry Fetsko gained starting experience at quarterback last season, throwing for 207 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs run-heavy offense. Second-leading rusher Nathan Cavallo will also return. Chartiers-Houston has reached the playoffs 12 times in the last 20 years but have not won a postseason game since 2000.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 22
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 93
Beth-Center was a perennial playoff contender for much of this century, reaching the postseason in 16 straight seasons from 2003 through 2018. The Bulldogs saw their streak end in 2019 and won just one game last season, which came in their season-opener against Waynesburg. Beth-Center enters 2021 with a 6-game losing streak they will look to break. The Bulldogs will have their dual-threat QB Colby Kuhns back after he threw for 686 yards and 6 TDs and ran for 532 yards and 2 TDs. Kuhns will be joined in the backfield by fellow senior Aiden Symcheck (324 yards). Leading receiver Ethan Varersko (207 yards, 1 TD) was only a freshman last season, giving Beth-Center a core of players to build around heading into 2021. Beth-Center’s 8.3 points per game was the third-lowest mark in 2A and they will need to improve offensively if they are going to challenge for a playoff spot.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 20
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 91
Waynesburg was a strong program in the early 2000s but has fallen on hard times. The Raiders have made the playoffs just once since 2004 (in 2014). After a winless 2020 campaign, Waynesburg enters 2021 with a 14-game losing streak dating back to a 2019 win over Ambridge in non-conference play. The Raiders have gone 22 games without a conference victory with the last one coming in 2017 against Southmoreland. Waynesburg did come close last year with a mere 7-6 loss to Charleroi. The Raiders ranked in the bottom 5 in the classification in both scoring offense and defense, finishing last in the conference in both categories. Waynesburg does have a talented player to build around in Breydon Woods who led the team in rushing with 538 yards and 4 TDs last year as a freshman.