Home Steelers 2022 Season WPIAL 2022 2A Playoff Primer

WPIAL 2022 2A Playoff Primer

by Ian

Since the move to six classifications, two teams have dominated the 2A classification. Steel Valley reached the first three Championship Games, winning the title in 2016 and 2018. Since Beaver Falls moved down to 2A in 2020, the Tigers have reached the title game in both of their seasons, winning the 2020 Championship and losing to Serra Catholic last year. Those two teams are the top-seeded schools in the bracket this year with a dangerous Sto-Rox team as the #3 seed. Keystone Oaks and Burrell found success in moving down from 3A to 2A this season and once again making the playoffs. The only team in this year’s 2A field that did not make the playoffs last year was Apollo-Ridge. Defending 2A Champions Serra Catholic once again dropped the season finale to Steel Valley and are slotted at the #5 seed.

The WPIAL 2A Champion will enter the statewide bracket in the semifinals. With only 3 conferences this year, 14 2A teams qualified for the playoffs with the top two seeds receiving first round byes. 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 be part of WPIAL Championship Friday at Heinz Field at 2pm on November 25.

Check out the 2A 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

The Bracket

The Teams

Steel Valley Ironmen
Conference Record: 7-0 Overall Record: 9-0
2A #1 Seed – First round bye, will host the winner of McGuffey-Mohawk in the Quarterfinals
How they got here: Steel Valley powered their way through the regular season behind a dominant offensive line. Their top five rushers, led by QB Cruce Brookins, all averaged over 10 yards per carry. The Ironmen had the top-ranked offense and defense in 2A. The only team to score more than once against their defense was Sto-Rox in a 27-24 Week 1 showdown between two of the top teams in the classification.
Recent History: Steel Valley missed the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 after reaching the WPIAL title game in three straight years from 2016-2018. The “Mercy Boys” squad of 2016 won the WPIAL and PIAA title while mercy ruling every team they played. The Ironmen lost to Washington in the 2017 WPIAL finals but came back to win the WPIAL title in 2018. This is their 13th playoff appearance in the last 17 years. This is the second straight year they are the top-seeded team in the 2A bracket after losing to Beaver Falls in the semifinals last year.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 25
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 29-20
Best Playoff Result: Won  the 1982 WPIAL AAA Championship. Won the WPIAL AA Championships in 1988 and 1989 , and WPIAL 2A Championships in 2016 and 2018. Won the 2016 PIAA Championship, defeating Southern Columbia 49-7.

Beaver Falls Tigers
Conference Record: 
7-0 Overall Record: 9-1
2A #2 Seed – First round bye, will host the winner of Ligonier Valley-Western Beaver at Geneva College in the quarterfinals.
How they got here: After an early-season non-conference loss to county rival Beaver, the Tigers turned it on and blitzed through conference play. Beaver Falls defeated all of their Midwestern Conference opponents by at least 20 points, averaging 40 points per game. Dual-threat QB Jaren Brickner was second in 2A in passing this season.
Recent History: Beaver Falls is making their 15th playoff appearance in the last 16 years. In 2016, Beaver Falls defeated Aliquippa 35-22 in the WPIAL Championship then went on to beat Middletown 30-13 and win the State Championship. In the two years since moving down to 2A, Beaver Falls has reached the WPIAL Championship both times. They defeated Sto-Rox to win the WPIAL title in 2020 and lost to Serra Catholic last year.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 21
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 34-18
Best Playoff Result: Five-time WPIAL Champions and 2016 State Champions. Awarded the WPIAL AAA Championship in 1928 and 1960 based on Gardner Points (no Championship Game). Won 1984 WPIAL AA Championship over Riverside 14-13. Won the WPIAL and PIAA 3A Championship in 2016. Won the WPIAL 2A Championship in 2020.

Sto-Rox Vikings
Conference Record:
 6-0 Overall Record: 7-2
2A #3 Seed – Will face #14 Riverside in the first round
How they got here: Sto-Rox lost their first two non-conference games against difficult opponents (top-seeded Steel Valley and 3A #2 seed Avonworth). But once conference play started the Vikings delivered in a big way, scoring 36+ in all but one of their games. Josh Jenkins led 2A in passing and the Vikings ended the season on a run of scoring over 50 points in their final three outings. The only win which did not come by Mercy Rule was a 6-0 defeat of McGuffey.
Recent History: This is Sto-Rox’s 6th playoff appearance in the last 7 seasons. They reached the WPIAL 1A Championship Game in 2019, losing to Clairton in 2019, and the 2A title game in 2020, losing to Beaver Falls.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 19
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 23-18
Best Playoff Result: 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.

Neshannock Lancers
Conference Record: 
6-1 Overall Record: 9-1
2A #4 Seed – Will face #13 Burrell in the first round.
How they got here: The Lancers have put together an impressive season thanks to the talents of dual-threat QB Jonny Huff. He very nearly joined the elite 1000/1000 club this year, coming up just short. But that should not take away from what Neshannock did, scoring at least 39 points in all of their victories. The only setback for the Lancers was a 22-0 loss to Beaver Falls.
Recent History:
 Neshannock has made the playoffs in 9 of the last 11 years. The Lancers had a 6-year run of playoff appearances from 2012-2017. In that span, they reached the semifinals 4 times and the WPIAL final once, losing to Steel Valley in the inaugural 2A Championship.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 12
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 11-12
Best Playoff Result: Lost to Steel Valley in the 2016 WPIAL 2A Championship Game.

Serra Catholic Eagles
Conference Record: 5-2 Overall Record: 7-3
2A #5 Seed – Will play #12 Washington at Norwin HS in the first round
How they got here: The defending WPIAL 2A Champions bounced back from a season-opening loss to North Catholic to defeat Washington 35-34 in a non-conference thriller. Those two teams will rematch in the first round. The Eagles offense was extraordinary this season as WR Amire Spencer lead the WPIAL in receiving and QBs Quadir Stribling and Elijah Ward became just the fourth duo in WPIAL history to both pass for 1000 yards in a regular season.
Recent History: This is Serra’s 7th straight playoff appearance after a 6-year drought. Serra is the defending WPIAL 2A Champions.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 14
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 13-11
Best Playoff Result: Won two WPIAL Class A Championships, defeating Clairton 12-0 in 1981 and defeating Springdale 10-6 in 2007. Lost to Steelton-Highspire 34-15 in the 2007 PIAA Class A Championship. Won the 2021 WPIAL 2A Championship, defeating Beaver Falls 35-12 but lost to Southern Columbia in the PIAA Championship.

Keystone Oaks Golden Eagles
Conference Record: 5-1 Overall Record: 8-2
3A #6 Seed – Will host #11 South Park in the first round.
How they got here: KO moved down from 3A to 2A this season and after a bumpy 3-2 start that featured losses to Bishop Canevin and Sto-Rox, turned things on down the stretch. The Eagles finished the year flying high on a 5-game winning streak. That included a 2-point win over McGuffey thanks to a last-second Hail Mary and a 14-point win over Washington to lock up a playoff spot and prevent a Week 9 Casket Match against Brentwood.
Recent History: This is Keystone Oaks’ 3rd consecutive playoff appearance. They reached the semifinals twice during the six classification era (2016 and 2019).
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 12
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 7-12
Best Playoff Result: Keystone Oaks has reached the semifinals three in school history, losing to the eventual WPIAL Champions every time. In 2009 they lost to GCC and in 2016 they fell to eventual State champions Beaver Falls. Last year they also lost to eventual State Champions Central Valley. Dormont High School had a very successful run in the 1940s. They reached the Class A (later AA) Championship game 5 times in 8 years. Dormont tied Mt. Pleasant Hurst for the 1942 title and Glassport for the 1943 title (no overtime). Dormont won the 1945 title, defeating Derry 30-19.

Ligonier Valley Rams
Conference Record:
 5-2 Overall Record: 7-3
2A #7 Seed – Will play at #10 Western Beaver at Greensburg-Salem in the first round
How they got here: The Rams haven’t played many close games this season. All but one of their wins (a 9-point victory over Southmoreland) have been by at least two scores. Similarly, their losses have all been by more than one score. Since a shutout loss to Steel Valley in Week 4, Ligonier Valley has averaged 38 points per game, including a 9-point loss to Serra Catholic.
Recent History: 
Ligonier Valley played in the WPIAL until 1969 when they moved to District 6. The Rams returned to the WPIAL in 2020 after four straight trips to the D-6 Championship Game. This will be their second appearance in the WPIAL playoffs.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 1
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 0-1
Best Playoff Result: Ligonier Valley won District 6 titles in 2016 and 2017 and lost in the D-6 Championship Game in 2018 and 2019. The Rams reached the PIAA semifinals in 2016, losing to Southern Columbia.

McGuffey Highlanders
Conference Record: 4-2 Overall Record: 7-3
2A #8 Seed – Will host #9 Mohawk in the first round
How they got here: The Highlanders were oh-so-close to winning a second conference title in three seasons. All that separated them from the top spot in the Century was a 6-0 loss to Sto-Rox and a 2-point loss to Keystone Oaks that was decided by a last-second Hail Mary. In Week 9 McGuffey pulled away late to top I-70 rivals Washington and secure the third-place spot.
Recent History: This is the fifth straight playoff appearance for McGuffey. In 2019 the Highlanders earned their first playoff victory since 1994 when they won the WPIAL AAA Championship. This is just their 9th playoff appearance since that title.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 12
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 
Best Playoff Result: Defeated Blackhawk 12-6 in the 1994 AAA Championship after losing to Blackhawk in the title game the year prior. Lost to Sharon 14-7 in the 1994 PIAA semifinals.

Mohawk Warriors
Conference Record: 4-3 Overall Record: 4-4
2A #9 Seed – Will play at McGuffey in the first round.
How they got here: After a tumultuous start to the season where Mohawk had to cancel a game due to a hazing investigation, the Warriors bounced back in a big way. In mid-October they defeated Freedom and Western Beaver to secure a playoff spot and force a three-way tie for third place in the conference.
Recent History: After not making the playoffs from 2005-2016, Mohawk qualified in consecutive years. The Warriors won the conference title in 2018 and won their second playoff game in school history. Mohawk also won a playoff game last year, just their third in school history, defeating Chartiers-Houston.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 7
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 3-7
Best Playoff Result: This is only the Warriors 8th playoff appearance all-time. Their best result was reaching the quarterfinals in 2005, 2018, and 2021.

Western Beaver Golden Beavers
Conference Record: 4-3 Overall Record: 7-3
2A #10 Seed – Will face #7 Ligonier Valley at Greensburg Salem HS in the first round
How they got here: The Golden Beavers got off to a hot start this season, winning 7 of their first 8 games. But down the stretch their offense dried up and scored just 8 points against both Mohawk and Beaver Falls in the final two games. Those losses dropped them from being a contender for the conference title to fourth place.
Recent History: This is Western Beaver’s 5th playoff appearance in the last 9 years. They have not won a playoff game since 2008.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 24
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 18-21
Best Playoff Result: Won the WPIAL Class A Championship in 1976, 1983 and 1994. Lost to Southern Columbia in the 1994 PIAA Class A Championship Game.

Apollo-Ridge Vikings
Conference Record:
4-3 Overall Record: 6-4
2A #11 seed: Will play at Keystone Oaks in the first round
How they got here: The Vikings season appeared to be on the ropes after losing 4 of 5 in the middle of the year, the last one a 38-34 loss to Imani Christian. But they turned things around on the legs of Nick Curci and the running game, pulling off a surprising overtime upset of Serra Catholic in Week 8. That put them in position to beat rival Burrell in Week 9 and earn a playoff spot.
Recent History: 
Apollo-Ridge reached the playoffs in 5 straight seasons from 2012-2016. This is their 3rd playoff appearance in the last 4 years. In 2020 they reached the semis for the first time in school history, falling to eventual WPIAL Champions Beaver Falls
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 16
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 4-16
Best Playoff Result: Apollo-Ridge made it past the Quarterfinals for the first time in school history in 2020. They reached the AA Quarterfinals in 2014 and the Single-A Quarterfinals in 2013 and 2007. Apollo High School lost in the WPIAL Class B (which later became Single-A) Final in 1962 and 1965.

Washington Prexies
Conference Record: 3-3 Overall Record: 6-4
2A #12 Seed – 
Will play #12 Serra Catholic at Norwin HS in the first round
How they got here: The Prexies finishing in 4th place might be one of the biggest surprises of the season. After an unbeaten season last year ended with a first round playoff upset, many expected Washington to be a top contender again this season. Through September they looked the part with a 5-1 record and their only loss coming by one point to Serra Catholic. But a mercy-rule defeat to Sto-Rox sent things spiraling as Wash High dropped 3 of their last 4 games.
Recent History: Washington is making their 12th consecutive playoff appearance and 13th in the last 14 years. The Prexies won the WPIAL 2A Championship 37-10 over Steel Valley in 2017 then lost in the PIAA semifinals to Wilmington 49-42. In 2019 they returned to the WPIAL Championship but lost to Avonworth.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 34
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 43-31-1
Best Playoff Result: Tied Johnstown 0-0 for the 1917 WPIAL AAA Championship. Won the 1920 and 1926 WPIAL AAA Championship. Declared the 1923 WPIAL AAA Champion. Won the 1993 and 2001 WPIAL AA Championship. Won the 2017 WPIAL 2A Championship. Won the 2001 PIAA Championship, defeating Pen Argyl 19-12.

Burrell Bucs
Conference Record: 
3-4 Overall Record: 6-4
2A #13 Seed – Will play at #4 Neshannock in the first round.
How they got here: Burrell is a run-heavy team that started the season strong but faded down the stretch. The Bucs ran out to a 5-1 start to the season where they averaged 32 points per game. But once the calendar flipped to October the schedule got harder with the top teams in the conference and the Bucs lost 3 of 4, averaging just 15 points per game in that stretch.
Recent History: Burrell is making their second consecutive playoff appearance. Last year the Bucs snapped an 8-year drought, qualifying for the first time since 2012.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 19
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 16-15
Best Playoff Result: Burrell has won 4 WPIAL Championships. In 1967 and 1968 they defeated rival Freeport by identical 6-0 scores in the Class A (later AA) Championship Game. In 1986 Burrell defeated Beth-Center 3-0 in the AA Championship Game. Burrell won the 1995 WPIAL Championship, defeating Washington 14-13 in overtime.. The Bucs lost in the 1995 State Championship Game to Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg).

Riverside Panthers
Conference Record: 4-3 Overall Record: 5-4
2A #14 seed: Will play at #3 Sto-Rox in the first round
How they got here: Riverside is back in the playoffs after a two-year absence. The Panthers bookended conference play with a brace of victories. In September they defeated Mohawk and Freedom in one-score games and in October ended the year with blowout wins over New Brighton and rival Ellwood City. Those wins were enough to get them into the postseason as the fifth team out of the Midwestern Conference.
Recent History: This is their 6th playoff appearance in the last 9 years. This is Riverside’s first playoff appearance since 2019 but they made the semifinals in 3 of the first 4 years of the six-classification era.
WPIAL Playoff Appearances: 20
All-Time WPIAL Playoff Record: 22-18
Best Playoff Result: Reached the WPIAL AA Championship 5 times in a 10-year span between 1984 and 1993. Won the 1985 AA title, defeating Swissvale 21-15.

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