The 2021 WPIAL Football season is right around the corner. Week 0 games kick off this Friday with the full regular season starting next week. We have our full slate of conference previews available, along with TWO season preview episodes of the WPIAL Blitz Show. Check out Episode 1 (4A-5A-6A Preview) and Episode 2 (1A-2A-3A Preview). We are also collecting donations for the Peyton Walker Foundation this year as part of the WPIAL Blitz Show, but a donation is not necessary to watch the episodes.
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.
WPIAL 6A Predictions
Quad County Conference Champion: Central Catholic
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Mt. Lebanon over Central Catholic
Central Catholic is the two-time defending WPIAL Champions and have their sights set on making a run at the State Championship game. But Mt. Lebanon returns a loaded group of seniors and has the most experienced roster in 6A. With Bob Palko at the helm, can Mt. Lebanon finally get over the hump and win their first WPIAL title since 2000? Last year Mt. Lebanon beat Central Catholic in the regular season but lost to the Vikings in the playoffs. This year, I think the script gets flipped and Central wins the regular season matchup but Mt. Lebanon comes back to get revenge in the WPIAL title game. Don’t bet against Bob Palko in championship games.
WPIAL 5A Predictions
Allegheny Six Conference Champion: Upper St. Clair
Big East Conference Champion: Penn-Trafford
Northeast Conference Champion: Pine-Richland
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Gateway over Penn-Trafford
This was one of the hardest championship games to predict. There are at least five teams (Gateway, Penn-Trafford, Pine-Richland, Upper St Clair, Woodland Hills) capable of making the Championship Game, and that’s not even counting teams that could get hot and make a run like West Allegheny, Moon, or Penn Hills. I think Pine-Richland rolls through the regular season and gets the top seed in the playoffs but gets knocked off by Gateway in the semifinals. Penn-Trafford has the most playoff wins in WPIAL history without winning a Championship, and would be quite the story if they could pull it off. In each of Gateway’s recent WPIAL title seasons, they have lost to Penn-Trafford in the regular season.
WPIAL 4A Predictions
Big Eight Conference Champion: Belle Vernon
Greater Allegheny Conference Champion: Plum
Parkway Conference Champion: Aliquippa
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Belle Vernon over Aliquippa
If Belle Vernon beats Thomas Jefferson and wins the Big Eight regular season title, they should land on the opposite half of the bracket from Aliquippa. This means a potential 2020 Championship Game rematch (Quips vs TJ) in the semifinals. This would be Belle Vernon’s first WPIAL title since 1995. Aliquippa boasts a massive line that will give teams problems all season and is good enough to carry the Quips to their 14th straight championship game appearance.
WPIAL 3A Predictions
Allegheny Seven Conference Champion: North Catholic
Interstate Conference Champion: Elizabeth Forward
Northwest Six Conference Champion: Central Valley
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Central Valley over North Catholic
North Catholic has reached the semifinals in 7 of the last 8 years but is just 1-6 in those games. The three conference champions from last season all return loaded squads and should be the favorites once again. Elizabeth Forward is certainly a threat to make it to their second straight title game, but Central Valley is still just that much better than the rest of the 3A pack.
WPIAL 2A Predictions
Allegheny Conference Champion: Serra Catholic
Century Conference Champion: McGuffey
Midwestern Conference Champion: Laurel
Three Rivers Conference Champion: Sto-Rox
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Serra Catholic over Sto-Rox
Across the board, 2A was the hardest classification to predict. Serra and Sto-Rox are the only teams that I feel confident in picking as conference champions. McGuffey will get a strong challenge from Washington and Laurel is a bit of an upset pick over defending WPIAL Champs Beaver Falls. With 16 teams making the playoffs, it will be a wide open race. Teams like Neshannock and Ligonier Valley are quarterfinal-caliber. Six teams (Serra, McGuffey, Laurel, Sto-Rox, Beaver Falls, and Washington) have the talent to make a run to the Championship Game. Ultimately, I picked the two teams with the most explosive offenses in a rematch of last year’s semifinal thriller. Sto-Rox has made the title game six times since their last Championship in 1987. Picking between Serra and Sto-Rox was like flipping a coin as both teams are incredibly talented.
WPIAL 1A Predictions
Big Seven Conference Champion: Rochester
Eastern Conference Champion: Clairton
Tri-County South Conference Champion: West Greene
WPIAL Championship Prediction: Clairton over Rochester
Clairton will once again be a force to be reckoned with in 1A. The Bears have reached 11 of the last 15 WPIAL Championship Games and won 10 of them. Rochester returns 2 of their top 3 running backs and look like the favorites in the Big Seven but don’t count out OLSH from making a run. Clairton and Rochester have met in the WPIAL title game 5 times since 1992, so it would not be surprising to see two of the premier 1A programs meet once again.