Home Steelers 2023 Season 2023 WPIAL Preview: 1A Black Hills Conference

2023 WPIAL Preview: 1A Black Hills Conference

by Ian

The 2023 WPIAL football season is nearly upon us! Over the next few weeks we will be previewing all 17 conferences in preparation for kickoff on August 25. We are also thrilled to announce that the WPIAL Blitz Show will be back on the YouTube airwaves this season. Subscribe to the Sports Stream Premium channel with new shows dropping each Tuesday during the season!

This year, our WPIAL coverage is proudly presented by GoMVB Sports and Sports Solutions Marketing.  High school athletes should check out GoMVB Sports – SSM for tips on how to beef up their social media presence to attract college coaches and college recruiters. The Sports Solutions network provides pay per view hosting and broadcasting for high school sporting events. More information is available via EasternPAFootball.com.

With four conferences in 1A, the playoff format is simple. The top four teams from each conference qualify for the postseason. Last year, Bishop Canevin entered the year as the defending WPIAL Champions and the presumed favorites. The Crusaders swept through the Black Hills Conference and the regular season before a surprising upset in the WPIAL Championship Game. Canevin returns a bulk of their lineup and is once again one of the favorites not only in the WPIAL but also in the state. But they are not the only team to watch in the Black Hills. Fort Cherry QB Matt Seig became the first freshman to pass and rush for 1000 yards. The middle of the pack should also be strong with good teams in Burgettstown, OLSH, and Cornell battling for playoff spots.

Be sure to keep tabs on our WPIAL Standings Page throughout the season and follow our WPIAL Twitter account @WPIAL_Blitz. Teams are listed in their predicted order of finish.

Bishop Canevin

The Crusaders have reached the last two WPIAL Championship games, winning the 2021 title. Bishop Canevin’s only two losses last year came against the two teams that played for the State Championship. They lost a Week 0 showdown with Steel High and then to Union in the WPIAL final. They enter this season as one of the favorites to make a run to the title. After splitting time at QB the last the seasons, junior Kole Olszewski (1503 yards, 16 TDs) will take on the role full-time. WVU-commit Jason Cross, who also split time at QB (1302 yards, 18 TDs), will move out to receiver. Cross’ dynamic athleticism accounted for 305 rushing yards, 213 receiving yards, and 12 total TDs last season in addition to what he did with his arm. As a defensive back recruit, he will anchor the defense that also has a highly touted sophomore linebacker in Daiveon Taylor who has offers from Pitt, Penn State, and WVU. Senior RB Marquis Carter (1563 yards, 11 TDs) has a chance to lead the WPIAL in rushing with his big-play ability after averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Matthew Mickle (232 yards, 2 TDs) should see his role increase in the ground game as well. Joining Cross on the outside will be Jayden Lindsey (369 yards, 4 TDs) and Az’Juan Marshall (261 yards, 3 TDs). Canevin is absolutely loaded with talent once again and has a number of returning starters on the lines, making them one of the top contenders to claim the WPIAL (and possibly state) title.

Fort Cherry

The most exciting sophomore in the WPIAL plays for the Fort Cherry Rangers. Last year, Matt Seig became the first freshman to ever join the elite 1000/100 club. He threw for 1221 yards and 11 TDs and ran for 1982 yards and an astounding 33 TDs. Sieg took the Rangers to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and they won a playoff game for the first time since 2016. Joining Sieg in the backfield are senior RB Ethan Faletto (733 yards, 11 TDs) and junior RB Nate Heirendt (596 yards, 5 TDs). Leading receivers Shane Cornali (550 yards, 7 TDs) and Braydon Cook (427 yards, 5 TDs) are both rising juniors. With this much returning talent, Fort Cherry is primed for a big step forward this season and into the future. Fort Cherry has not been deeper than the quarterfinals since 2001 but this talented group of underclassmen has the potential to change that.


The Chargers had high hopes heading into last season after reaching the WPIAL finals in 2021. After a 6-0 start to the season, injuries caught up with them late in the year. OLSH managed to squeak out a 1-point win over Cornell to get into the playoffs but lost in the opening round to Clairton. OLSH will need to work in a new quarterback this year, but whoever steps in will have the advantage of an experienced group of skill position players around him. Leading rusher Brandon Brazell (451 yards, 5 TDs) returns for his senior season. OLSH threw a lot last year and return leading receivers Dereon Greer (834 yards, 9 TDs) and Dorrien Tate (548 yards, 8 TDs). Junior WR Ethan Gardner (262 yards, 4 TDs) also returns for a loaded Chargers offense that has plenty of firepower to make another playoff push.


After making the playoffs 6 times between 1980 and 2015, the Blue Devils have now reached the postseason 6 times in the last 7 years. After an inconspicuous 1-2 start last season, they flew under the radar with low-scoring wins over Chartiers-Houston and Cornell. But they made a big statement in early October with a 3-point win over OLSH. That was the middle of a 5-game winning streak which came to an end in Week 9 against Fort Cherry which dropped them into a 3-way tie with Fort Cherry and OLSH. In the opening round of the playoffs, Burgettstown fell to eventual WPIAL Champions Union. Brodie Kuzior led the team in rushing (664 yards), was second in receiving (203 yards), led the team in scoring (14 total TDs) and even attempted a few passes (throwing 2 TDs). Kuzior may take over the starting QB role this season in an effort to put the ball in his hands every play. Rudy Brown (469 yards, 5 TDs) also returns to the Blue Devils backfield after averaging 8.5 yards per carry. Zachary Schrockman (105 yards, 2 TDs) is the top returning receiver. Burgettstown’s defense was the key to their 5-game winning streak and they will need to recapture that stinginess in order to make the playoffs once again.


The Raiders missed out on the playoffs by just one point – a 27-26 Week 9 loss to OLSH. After a 3-1 start Cornell saw a promising season slip away as they lost 4 of their last 5. CJ Jackson split time at QB last year, throwing for 416 yards and 2 TDs. Leading receiver Drevon Newton (458 yards, 7 TDs) returns for the Raiders. Watch out for sophomore RB Khylil Johnson (231 yards, 5 TDs) who averaged 8.6 yards per carry as a freshman and may take over the lead back role. Cornell was a typical middle-of-the-pack team last year. Their only one-score result was the loss to OLSH, all of their other games decided by two scores or more.


The Eagles won just 1 game last season, a 22-14 victory over Carlynton. The move from the Tri-County South to the Black Hills Conference made geographic sense in the 1A world, but Avella as a very rural school fits much better with the TCS. Avella has a very small roster and had to forfeit a game because of accumulated injuries. They did finish the season and return some contributors this year. Dual-threat QB Cole Jaworowski threw for 609 yards and 5 TDs and ran for 325 yards and 2 scores. Avella only scored 57 points all year, so Jaworowski accounted for more than half of those points. Leading receiver Isaiah Bradick (373 yards, 2 TDs) returns for the Eagles. Sophomore RB Caleb Ruschel (194 yards) saw plenty of carries as a freshman. Rising junior Broden Hamm was an all-around threat, leading the team in scoring with 3 TDs and accounting for 114 rushing yards and 33 receiving yards. Avella returns a lot of players from a team that won 1 game last year as the Eagles will look to improve in a very difficult conference.


The Bucs roared out to a 3-0 start with victories over Tri-County South opponents. But once conference play started the offense was ground to a halt. Other than wins against Carlynton and Avella, the Bucs did not score more than twice against any other conference opponent. With a number of skill position players graduating, Char Houston will likely lean on their running game and sophomore RB Zeke Watkins. Last year as a freshman he ran for 332 yards and 4 TDs, averaging over 6 yards per carry. Tight End Derrian Sauls (195 yards, 1 TD) is the top returning receiver.


The Cougars went 0-10 last year and will carry a 14-game losing streak into the 2023 season, the third-longest in the WPIAL. Carlynton had hoped the move down from 2A to 1A would help rejuvinate the program with the longest active playoff drought in the WPIAL. Unfortunately after a winless season the work needs to continue. Dual-threat QB Jaydin McKnight ran for 377 yards and 6 TDs and threw for 347 yards. He accounted for almost all of Carlynton’s offense. Leading receiver Devonte Dean (205 yards) also returns. Carlynton has a lot of work to do to rebuild their program, but with a few talented young players to build around, they may be able to at least end their losing streak this season.

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