With only 8 teams making the playoffs in 1A, every game this season felt massive and there was very little margin for error. In the end, two teams that finished 7-3 overall missed the playoffs because of the limited field. Laurel had wins over both Big Seven Champion Sto-Rox and Tri-County South second-place California but finished 4th in the Big Seven and missed the playoffs. There has been some vocalizations this week that it is unfair that 16 of 23 5A teams make the playoffs but only 8 of the 23 1A teams. That said, the eight teams that made the playoffs are truly the elite of the classification and this should make for a great playoffs. With Clairton’s Week 9 win over Jeannette, the Jayhawks had to be placed on the bottom half of the bracket. The WPIAL kept Jeannette and Clairton on opposite sides to set up a possible Championship Game rematch, but also gave Jeannette a first round game against Big Seven Champions Sto-Rox who is arguably the third best team in 1A.
Big Seven Conference
Conference Record: 6-1 Overall Record: 9-1
How they got here: Sto-Rox won their first 8 games in convincing fashion, including 3 straight shutouts. The Vikings winning streak reached 9 overall before a Week 8 loss to Laurel, who also defeated them last season. Sto-Rox finished with the second-best offense in 1A (42 points per game) and the second-best defense (9 points against per game). QB Eric Wilson won the WPIAL passing title last year as a junior and came up just 6 yards shy this season.
Recent History: This is Sto-Rox’s 3rd playoff appearance in the last 4 seasons. They have not won a playoff game since losing to North Catholic in the 2013 WPIAL Championship Game.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 17
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 17-15
Best Playoff Result: Sto-Rox reached the WPIAL Class A Championship 3 straight years from 2011-2013, losing twice to Clairton and once to North Catholic. Sto-Rox won the 1987 WPIAL AA Championship, defeating Ellwood City. Stowe beat Ramsay in the 1937 Class A (which became AA) Championship. McKees Rocks was awarded the 1935 and 1936 Class A Championships on Gardner Points.
Conference Record: 6-1 Overall Record: 9-1
How they got here: Cornell’s only loss this season came by 3 points in Week 2 to Sto-Rox. The Raiders closed out the season with wins over playoff teams GCC and OLSH and earned a home playoff game. Dual-threat QB Zaier Harrison carried the Raiders all season.
Recent History: Cornell ended their football program in 2011, operating under a co-operative agreement with Quaker Valley for four seasons. Cornell re-started their program in 2016 and lost their first 19 games before winning the final week of 2017. This is the Raiders first playoff appearance since 2011.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 8
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 0-8
Best Playoff Result: Cornell has never won a playoff game. Coraopolis lost in the 1969 Class B (later Single-A) Championship Game to German Twp. Neville lost in the 1955 and 1956 Class B Championship Games.
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 7-3
How they got here:
Recent History: OLSH started playing WPIAL football in 2010 and made the playoffs for the first time in 2016. They got their first playoff victory in 2017. After two straight playoff losses to Imani Christian, OLSH defeated the Saints in the first round last year and went on to beat Clairton and Rochester to win the WPIAL title. OLSH’s season ended with a loss to Farrell in the PIAA semifinals.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 4
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 4-2
Best Playoff Result: OLSH won their first WPIAL Championship in 2018, defeating Rochester 28-6. They lost to Farrell in the PIAA semifinals.
Conference Record: 6-0 Overall Record: 8-2
How they got here: Clairton got off to a rare 0-2 start with losses to 3A Aliquippa and 2A McGuffey. Once the Bears got to face 1A opponents they dominated, rolling off 8 straight victories. Clairton was the first team to score against Laurel this season in a 33-7 Week 4 victory. They knocked off Tri-County South Champion West Greene 49-7. In Week 9, they beat Jeannette for the 7th time since 2014 to clinch the Eastern Conference title.
Recent History: Clairton is making their 14th consecutive playoff appearance. They have won 9 of the last 13 WPIAL Championships. The Bears won three straight WPIAL titles from 2014-2016 but lost in the semifinals each of the last two years. Clairton has made at least the semifinals in 13 straight seasons.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 33
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 63-22
Best Playoff Result: Clairton has won 13 WPIAL titles, the second-most behind Aliquippa’s 16 titles. Awarded the 1929, 1931, and 1954 WPIAL AAA Championship based on Gardner Points (no Championship Game). Won the WPIAL Class A Championship in 1989, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and the WPIAL 1A Championship in 2016. Won PIAA Class A Championship in 2009, 2012, 2011, and 2012.
Conference Record: 5-1 Overall Record: 9-1
How they got here: Jeannette put together a dominant regular season that included a win over a 2A playoff team (East Allegheny) and OLSH. But the Jayhawks fell to Clairton in the season finale which cost them both the Conference Title and a home playoff game. Jeannette had the third-best offense in 1A (42 points per game) and the top defense (8 points allowed per game).
Recent History: Jeannette has reached the WPIAL Championship in 3 straight seasons. They defeated Imani Christian by a point in last year’s WPIAL title game then rolled on to the State Championship where they defeated Homer-Center to win their second PIAA title. The Jayhawks have only missed the playoffs twice since 1994 (most recently in 2013).
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 41
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 55-31
Best Playoff Result: Tied McKeesport and New Castle for the 1932 AAA title on Gardner Points (no Championship game). Won the 1939 and 1956 WPIAL AAA Championship. Won the WPIAL AA Championship in 1971, 1981, 1983, 2006, and 2007. Won PIAA AA Championship in 2007, defeating Dunmore 49-21. Won the WPIAL and PIAA 1A Championships in 2017.
Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions
Conference Record: 4-2 Overall Record: 7-3
How they got here: GCC survived some early-season scares to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2015. They earned the 1A Wild Card over Chartiers-Houston on Tiebreaker Points +24 to +22. The decisive results were GCC coming back against Clairton to only lose by 7 in Week 2 and their 1-point triple-overtime win over Leechburg in Week 3.
Recent History: Before the move to 6 classifications, GCC had reached the playoffs in 13 straight seasons and 17 of 18 years between 1998 and 2015. This is their first playoff berth since 2015.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 22
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 19-20
Best Playoff Result: GCC won the 2009 WPIAL AA Championship, defeating Aliquippa 33-7. They made it all the way to the PIAA Championship Game, losing to Lancaster Catholic 21-14.
Tri-County South Conference
West Greene Pioneers
Conference Record: 7-0 Overall Record: 9-1
How they got here: West Greene became just the 9th team in WPIAL history to break the 500-point mark during the regular season. Ben Jackson led the WPIAL in rushing with 2705 yards and 47 TDs, breaking Zane Dudek’s single-season touchdown record. West Greene clinched the Conference title with a Week 6 win over California, their first victory over the Trojans since 2003.
Recent History: In 2017 West Greene reached the playoffs for the first time since 1993, breaking the third-longest playoff drought in the WPIAL. Last year the Pioneers finished in a 3-way tie for first place with Monessen and California and won a coin flip to get a home playoff game. This year they won the conference title outright and will try to get their first playoff victory since 1993.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 5
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 3-4
Best Playoff Result: West Greene reached the Class A WPIAL Championship Game in 1993, but fell to Duquesne.
Conference Record: 6-1 Overall Record: 7-3
How they got here: California battled through injuries all season but were able to put it together at the end to finish on a 3-game winning streak. The Trojans beat Chartiers-Houston in Week 8 in a battle for the second (and ultimately final) playoff spot in the Tri-County South.
Recent History: This is California’s third straight playoff appearance after a 4-year drought. Prior to that, the Trojans had made the playoffs in 12 of 13 years but only won two games. Their two wins en route to the WPIAL semifinals last year equaled that total from 1999-2011.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 22
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 7-20
Best Playoff Result: Won the 1949 AA Championship, defeating Dormont 38-6. Lost the AA Championship Game in 1965 and the Class A Championship Game in 1986.