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.
This year, our WPIAL coverage is sponsored by the Sports Stream Premium Network and PA Mortgage Protection and Life Insurance. The Sports Stream Premium Network enables schools to turn their livestreamed events into pay-per-view events where schools receive 100% of the revenue generated.
Last year the Three Rivers Conference was won by Sto-Rox who moved up from 1A to 2A. The Vikings then won two thrilling playoff games to reach the WPIAL Championship for the second straight season where they fell to Beaver Falls. This season, with the WPIAL’s full scheduling and playoff plan back in effect, 16 teams will make the 2A playoffs. The top three teams from the Three Rivers Conference are guaranteed a playoff spot. The final playoff spot will be awarded to a “Wild Card” between the fourth place team in the Allegheny Conference and the fourth place team in the Three Rivers Conference.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 10
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 73
Sto-Rox pulled off the feat of reaching the WPIAL title game in consecutive seasons in different classifications. The Vikings lost to Clairton in the 2019 1A Championship then moved up in classification last year and made it back to the title game but fell once again, this time to Beaver Falls. Sto-Rox has reached the WPIAL finals 6 times since their last Championship in 1987. Last season’s team was a relatively young one and with nearly all of their starters returning, Sto-Rox is primed for a run at their first WPIAL title in 35 years. Rising junior Josh Jenkins started the year at quarterback, throwing for 1426 yards and 16 TDs. But late in the year, with injuries impacting the receiving corps, Jenkins selflessly stepped out to play WR. Austin Jones, a rising senior, stepped in at quarterback and threw for 795 yards and 5 TDs and ran for 251 yards and 5 TDs. With both players returning this season, Sto-Rox will have to decide on the best distribution of their talented playmakers on the field. Leading receiver Jaymont Green-Miller (748 yards, 12 TDs) will be a junior this season, along with RB Zay Davis who ran for 579 yards and added 308 receiving yards and scored 9 times last season. Also on the outside, Drevon Miller-Ross (468 yards, 5 TDs) will be a junior, giving Sto-Rox one of the most talented junior classes in the entire WPIAL. The Vikings certainly have the playmakers and talent all over the field to make a run at a WPIAL title.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 23
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 95
The Golden Beavers made the playoffs last year for the second time in four seasons. Western Beaver started the year 5-0 before falling to Sto-Rox in Week 6 which cost them the outright conference title. Unfortunately, they drew the eventual WPIAL Champions Beaver Falls in the first round. Western Beaver has not won a playoff game since 2008. The good news is that QB Xander Lefebvre (780 yards, 10 TDs) will only be a junior. The top two receivers graduated, but Western Beaver returns their top two rushers. Thad Gray (386 yards, 6 TDs) and Cameron Irvine (280 yards, 1 TD) are both rising seniors.
South Side Beaver
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 14
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 77
South Side Beaver had a solid season in the middle of the pack last year, missing the playoffs only because of a 6-point loss to Western Beaver in Week 1. The Rams have reached the postseason in 5 of the last 7 years and made a run to the 2018 WPIAL 2A Championship game where they fell to Steel Valley. South Side had the best defense in the conference last season, holding opponents under 18 points per game. The Rams are a run-heavy team that had 5 players run for over 200 yards last season. Leading rusher Cam Knox (288 yards, 2 TDs) returns for his senior season. Others from that group include Parker Statler (218 yards, 1 TD), Andrew Moots (201 yards), and Donald Jodikinos (201 yards, 2 TDs). Leading receiver Alex Arigo also returns even though South Side does not throw very often and did not have a passing touchdown last season.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 9
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 71
The Spartans reached the semifinals in 2019 but came up short of the playoffs last season. Brentwood has been a successful team at reaching the postseason, qualifying in 14 of the last 19 seasons. Brentwood controlled their own destiny halfway through last season but dropped their last three games to Western Beaver, South Side Beaver, and Sto-Rox. The Spartans will lean on a young core of skill position players this season. O’Malley Daly figures to take over the lead back role after running for 256 yards and 4 TDs as a freshman. Impressively, Daly averaged over 11 yards per carry. Leading receiver Amire Spencer (298 receiving yards, 203 rushing yards, 6 total TDs) will be a junior. The Spartans will get their senior leadership from QB Jase Keib who threw for 774 yards and 5 TDs last season.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 18
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 88
Seton LaSalle has a strong football tradition, including 5 WPIAL Championships, but they have struggled the last few seasons. The Rebels reached the 3A semifinals in 2017 then moved down to 2A in 2018 and made the playoffs again. Since then, they have not made the playoffs and won just 3 total games in the last 2 years. It was a tough offseason for Seton LaSalle after head coach Mauro Monz and assistant coach Jason Pinkston were suspended for the season by the WPIAL for recruiting allegations. If the Rebels are going to make it back to the playoffs, they will need to improve a defense that allowed 37 points per game last year, the third-most in 2A. Senior QB Emmett Harris stepped into the quarterback role in the second half of last season and found success as a dual-threat option. Harris threw for 433 yards and 5 TDs and ran for 199 yards and 1 score. Leading rusher Gabriel Finale (374 yards, 6 TDs) also returns for his senior season along with two-way lineman Liam Halligan who has committed to Brown.
WPIAL ELO Rank (2A): 26
WPIAL ELO Rank (Overall): 102
Carlynton was credited with 3 victories last season, with their win over Sto-Rox coming on a non-COVID related forfeit. Their other two wins came in non-conference play, but those 3 wins were the most for the Cougars since 2013. Carlynton has not made the playoffs since 2001, and their 19-year streak is the third-longest in the WPIAL. If they are going to make a run at ending that streak, the Cougars will need to score more than the 17 points per game they averaged last season, the lowest mark in the conference. Khalil Kerr returns for his senior season after throwing for 262 yards and 1 TD last year and adding another touchdown on the ground. Kerr’s top targets Lajuan Turner (112 yards, 1 TD) and Bryce Rodriguez (90 yards, 1 TD) are also rising seniors. Second-leading rusher Shawn Curry (166 yards, 1 TD) will only be a junior.