The WPIAL 1A Champion will enter the statewide bracket in the semifinals. With 1A expanding to 4 conferences this year, the top four teams from each received playoff berths to make a 16-team playoff field. The higher-seeded team will host the first round games and the teams with byes will host the quarterfinal games. Semifinals will be at neutral sites. The Championship Game will kick off WPIAL Championship Friday at Heinz Field at noon on November 25.
Check out the 1A Preview as part of this week’s WPIAL Blitz Show.
Also, check out our Playoff Primers for the other classifications: 1A | 2A | 3A | 4A | 5A | 6A
Bishop Canevin Crusaders
Conference Record: 7-0 Overall Record: 9-1
1A #1 Seed – Will face #16 Jeannette at Peters Twp in the first round.
How they got here: The defending WPIAL Champs returned nearly their entire roster from last year’s title-winning team and begam this year as the presumptive favorites. They started the season with a Week 0 showdown with Steelton-Highspire, one of the top-ranked teams from Eastern PA and fell in a close 21-14 battle. Once the schedule flipped to facing WPIAL opponents the Crusaders rolled. They defeated GCC (who is the 3-seed in this bracket) 30-14 and 2A Keystone Oaks 20-7 in non-conference play, the later was their closest WPIAL result of the season. Against conference opponents Bishop Canevin averaged 48 points per game and pitched four shutouts.
Recent History: Bishop Canevin is the defending WPIAL 1A Champions. They defeated OLSH to win the title last year, their second in school history. The Crusaders lost to Redbank Valley in the PIAA semifinals.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 19
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 22-17
Best Playoff Result: Won the WPIAL AA Championship in 1990. Went on to lose to Hanover in the PIAA Championship in overtime. Won the WPIAL 1A Championship in 2021.
Conference Record: 6-0 Overall Record: 8-1
1A #2 Seed – Will host #15 Carmichaels in the first round
How they got here: Laurel moved down to 1A this season and lost their top rushers from last year but didn’t miss a beat. They lost a thrilling Week 1 game to Lawrence County rivals Neshannock in overtime. But once the schedule shifted to conference play they were dominant against 1A opponents. Landon Smith ran for over 1300 yards and Laurel scored over 28 points in all of their outings, averaging 44 per game. Laurel topped South Side Beaver in Week 7 to secure their second straight conference title. Laurel is one of the hottest teams in 1A, entering the playoffs on a 7-game winning streak.
Recent History: Laurel reached the playoffs in 2016 and 2017 playing in 2A then dropped down to 1A for the next cycle and narrowly missed the playoffs both seasons. The Spartans returned to 2A in 2020 and made the playoffs both seasons once again. Laurel ping-ponged back to 1A this cycle and had a dominant campaign to make their third straight playoff appearance.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 22
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 17-21
Best Playoff Result: Won the 1980 WPIAL Class A Championship, defeating Clairton 14-12. Lost in the AA Championship game in 1977 and the Class A Championship Game in 1989.
Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions
Conference Record: 6-0 Overall Record: 8-2
1A #3 Seed – Will play #14 Rochester at Hempfield HS in the first round.
How they got here: GCC started the year just 2-2 with non-conference losses to Bishop Canevin and 2A Washington. Once conference play started, the Centurions rounded into form. They averaged 48 points per game and pitched 3 shutouts in their 6-game winning streak that carried them to the conference title.
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 third playoff berth since 2015.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 23
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 19-22
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.
Conference Record: 7-0 Overall Record: 10-0
1A #4 Seed – Will host #13 Leechburg in the first round.
How they got here: This was a historic season for the Maples. They won their first conference title since 2005, dominating the competition. They scored 42+ against every team except Monessen. Thanks to a 250-yard final week, RB Landan Stevenson wound up leading the WPIAL in rushing.
Recent History: This is Mapletown’s second consecutive playoff appearance and just their fourth in the last 17 years.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 8
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 0-8
Best Playoff Result: Mapletown has never won a playoff game. This is Mapletown’s first conference title since 2005.
South Side Beaver Rams
Conference Record: 5-1 Overall Record: 9-1
1A #5 Seed – Will host #12 California in the first round
How they got here: South Side moved down from 2A to 1A this season and found immediate success. The Rams rattled off 7 straight wins to start the season to set up a showdown with Laurel with the conference title on the line. South Side lost 33-16 but bounced back in quick fashion to beat fellow playoff teams Union and Rochester and secure the second-place spot in the conference.
Recent History: South Side Beaver is making their 7th playoff appearance in the last 9 years. In 2018 they made a run from the #8 seed to the WPIAL title game where they lost to Steel Valley.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 18
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 18-16
Best Playoff Result: Won 1970 and 1999 WPIAL Class A Championships. Won 1999 PIAA Class A Championship, defeating Southern Columbia 27-21.
Fort Cherry Rangers
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 7-3
1A #6 seed – Will host #11 Monessen in the first round
How they got here: When the calendar flipped to October, Fort Cherry was 3-3 and just 1-2 in conference play. But the Rangers were able to turn things around thanks in large part to the emergence of freshman QB Matt Sieg who became the 14th member (and first freshman) to join the 1000/1000 Club. In October the Rangers went 4-0 and averaged nearly 40 points per game, capping the season off with a win over rival Burgettstown to force a three-way tie with the Blue Devils and OLSH for second place, which Fort Cherry won on tiebreakers.
Recent History: This is Fort Cherry’s first playoff appearance since 2017. They reached the quarterfinals three times in the last decade (2011, 2013, 2016).
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 23
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 15-23
Best Playoff Result: Reached the Class A Championship Game in 1997 and 2001, losing to Riverview and Rochester.
Burgettstown Blue Devils
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 6-3
1A #7 Seed – Will host #10 Union in the first round.
How they got here: After a 1-2 start to the season, Burgettstown rattled off 5 straight wins, including a 22-19 upset victory over OLSH. That was the Chargers first loss of the season and it put Burgettstown in solid playoff position. The Blue Devils fell to Fort Cherry in Week 9, dropping them into a 3-way tie for second place and their head-to-head victory over OLSH was enough to keep them slotted as the third team from the Black Hills Conference.
Recent History: Burgettstown is making their 7th playoff appearance in the last 8 years. Their 2017 first round victory over Neshannock was their first playoff win since 1977.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 17
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 4-16
Best Playoff Result: Awarded the 1929 WPIAL Class B (became Single-A) Championship based on Gardner Points (no Championship Game). Won the 1941 WPIAL AA Championship Game 34-7 over Crafton.
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 8-2
1A #8 Seed – Will play #9 Clairton at Moon HS in the first round.
How they got here: Last year the Chargers made a run to the WPIAL title game and brought back most of the starters from that team, including QB Nehemiah Azeem who was leading the WPIAL in passing for much of the season. OLSH looked dominant through the first 6 games but were upset by Burgettstown in early October. The following week their game against Avella was cancelled. In a freak accident, Azeem was injured in pregame warmups before the showdown with Bishop Canevin and OLSH was blown out 40-0. For the second straight year, OLSH needed a win over Cornell in the final week of the season to clinch a playoff spot. The Chargers held on against a furious comeback and stopped a 2-point conversion late in the 4th quarter to preserve a victory.
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 in 2018 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. OLSH lost to Clairton in the first round in 2020 and 2021 before beating Clairton in the Quarterfinals last year en route to reaching the WPIAL finals for the second time where they lost to Bishop Canevin.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 6
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 7-5
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: 5-1 Overall Record: 5-5
1A #9 Seed – Will play #9 OLSH at Moon HS in the first round
How they got here: The WPIAL certainly did not do Clairton any favors with their non-conference schedule. The Bears had to face 2A Washington as well as OLSH (last year’s runner-up) and Rochester (a semi-finalist from last season). Clairton dropped all of those non-conference games, along with a game against GCC for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Clairton had to play a lot of young players this season but the talent is there to build on for the future. Clairton looked like the Clairton of old in their victories, but the youth showed up in their losses. Overall, despite the 2nd place finish in their conference this is a fair seeding given their non-conference results against other playoff teams.
Recent History: Clairton is making their 17th consecutive playoff appearance. They have won 10 of the last 16 WPIAL Championships. The Bears won three straight WPIAL titles from 2014-2016 but lost in the semifinals two years in a row before winning the 2019 WPIAL title. Last year’s quarterfinal loss to OLSH snapped Clairton’s streak of reaching the semifinals in 14 straight seasons.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 36
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 70-24
Best Playoff Result: Clairton has won 14 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 and 2019. Won PIAA Class A Championship in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Conference Record: 4-2 Overall Record: 7-3
1A #10 seed – Will play at #7 Burgettstown in the first round
How they got here: Union’s season started with their Week 0 game against Mohawk being cancelled because of a hazing investigation at Mohawk, but the Scotties pulled things together quickly and were able to schedule a game against Canton, one of the top 1A teams from District 4. Union lost but battled a top team hard and built confidence that turned into 3 straight wins. They battled Laurel tough, falling by just 6 points. Two weeks later Union would show their mettle in a 6-0 defensive struggle against Rochester where the only score came in the final minute of the fourth quarter to give the Scotties the win.
Recent History: This is the first playoff appearance for the Scotties since 2017. Union has made the playoffs just four times in the last 20 years.
Best Playoff Result: Tied for the 1959 WPIAL Class A title with Avonworth (no overtime).
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 6-4
1A #11 Seed – Will play at #6 Fort Cherry in the first round
How they got here: The Greyhounds bounced back from an 0-2 start to rattle off four straight wins. They topped California in impressive fashion, finding success on the ground with a pair of young speedsters. After beating California, it looked like Monessen and Mapletown were on a collision course for the conference title, but the Greyhounds lost to Carmichaels in early October which threw a wrench into the race. They would fall again to Mapletown a few weeks later before ending the season by doubling up Beth-Center and finishing in a 3-way tie for second with Carmichaels and California.
Recent History: Monessen made the playoffs in 26 of 29 years between 1985 and 2013. This is just their third playoff appearance in the last 8 years.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 34
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 19-32
Best Playoff Result: Won the WPIAL AAA Championship in 1930 and 1961.
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 8-2
1A #12 Seed – Will play at #5 South Side Beaver in the first round
How they got here: The Trojans burst out of the gate, scoring 45+ in each of their first four games en route to dominant victories. But in late October they dropped back-to-back games to Monessen and Mapletown to essentially knock them out of the conference title race. California would end the season on a 4-game winning streak, including a win over Carmichaels that lifted the Trojans into a three-way tie for second place.
Recent History: This is California’s 7th straight playoff appearance after a 4-year drought. After reaching the semifinals in 2017 California lost in the first round each of the last four years. Prior to their current streak, 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 in 2017 equaled that total from 1999-2011.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 24
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 7-23
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.
Leechburg Blue Devils
Conference Record: 4-2 Overall Record: 7-3
1A #13 Seed – Will play at #4 Mapletown in the first round.
How they got here: Coming off a historic season where they ended a 32-year playoff drought and won a playoff game for the first time in 42 years, big things were expected of Leechburg. Pitt-commit Braylan Lovelace anchroed the backfield and carried the Blue Devils to a 7-2 start to the season to set up a showdown with GCC for the conference title. Their only losses were in one-score games to non-conference rival Apollo-Ridge and to Clairton (who they have never defeated). In Week 9, Lovelace did not play and GCC ran away from Leechburg to win the conference crown and drop the Blue Devils into third place in the conference.
Recent History: Leechburg snapped a 32-year playoff drought last year to make the playoffs for the first time since 1988. They defeated California in the first round to win their first playoff game since 1978.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 7
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 5-4
Best Playoff Result: Three-time WPIAL Champions. Defeated Baldwin 26-21 in the 1953 Class A (later AA) Championship. Won back-to-back WPIAL titles in 1965 (over California in Class A) and 1966 (over Avella in Class A).
Conference Record: 3-3 Overall Record: 5-4
1A #14 Seed – Will play #3 GCC at Hempfield HS in the first round.
How they got here: Rochester is arguably the most under-seeded team in the WPIAL playoffs. All four of Rochester’s losses were by less than 10 points while all of their wins came by double-digits. They fell to OLSH 16-8 in Week 1, lost back-to-back games to Laurel (30-21) and Union (6-0). In the final week of the season, they had an opportunity to force a 3-way tie with Union and South Side but lost 10-8. In their wins, Rochester’s run-heavy offensive attack has averaged 45 points per game. They are a talented team with a win over Clairton and tight losses to the four other playoff teams they faced.
Recent History: Rochester was one of the dominant programs in Class A in the 1990s and 2000s, reaching 11 Championship Games and winning 7 WPIAL titles between 1990 and 2010. This is Rochester’s 6th playoff appearance in the last 7 years. The Rams have reached the semifinals four times in that span, including reaching the WPIAL final in 2018 where they fell to OLSH.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 28
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 62-21-1
Best Playoff Result: Won the WPIAL Class AA title in 1991, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004. Tied Westinghouse 0-0 in the 1921 AA Championship Game. Won the PIAA Class A Championship in 1998, 2000, and 2001.
Carmichaels Mighty Mikes
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 7-3
1A #15 Seed – Will play at #2 Laurel in the first round.
How they got here: Carmichaels’ offense was built around their passing game this season as QB Alec Anderson broke the school record for passing yards. The Mighty Mikes scored an impressive Week 1 win by edging out Fort Cherry. They were blown out by Mapletown at the start of conference play but rebounded two weeks later to top Monessen and put themselves right back in the race. That Monessen victory was short-lived as Carmichaels fell to California the following week to drop them into a three-way tie.
Recent History: This is Carmichaels second consecutive playoff appearance. They made the playoffs in 13 straight seasons from 1998-2010 but only made it out of the first round once in that span. Carmichaels made the playoffs 5 times in 6 years between 2012 and 2017 and won their first round game in 2017.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 28
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 5-26-1
Best Playoff Result: Beat Wilmerding 12-6 in the 1952 WPIAL Class B (later Single-A) Championship. Tied Rostraver 0-0 in the 1962 Class A (later AA) Championship before there was overtime.
Conference Record: 3-3 Overall Record: 3-7
1A #16 seed: Will play #1 Bishop Canevin at Peters Twp in the first round.
How they got here: Jeannette missed the playoffs last year for just the third time since 1994 due to a mass exodus of players and coaches from the WPIAL Championship-winning team of 2020. The Jayhawks have slowly begun to rebuild their program and found themselves back in the playoffs thanks to big wins over Frazier, Riverview, and Springdale.
Recent History: Jeannette reached the WPIAL Championship in 3 straight seasons from 2015-2017. After two losses to Clairton, defeated Imani Christian by a point in the 2017 WPIAL title game then rolled on to the State Championship where they defeated Homer-Center to win their second PIAA title. In 2020 they defeated Clairton to win the WPIAL title and reached the State Championship game where they lost to Steelton-Highspire.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 42
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 58-32
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. Won the WPIAL 1A Championship in 2020.