What began as a group of sixteen is now down to eight. Four teams from the west will join four teams from the east in Hershey next weekend to determine champions in four classes. There are some familiar names and some new faces. PaPreps goes back to what happened this weekend to see how the state whittled the list down to the final eight.
For the second straight year, a District 1 team will get a crack at the Class AAAA title. It's just not the District 1 team anyone expected to be there at the beginning of the year. Coatesville's unexpected run continued with a 42-35 shootout win over La Salle, sending the Red Raiders to Hershey for the first time in school history.
Coatesville's used an explosive-but-balanced offense all year, and this week was no different. Quarterback Emmett Hunt was 16-of-30 for 225 yards and three touchdowns while running back Daquan Worley carried 25 times for 164 yards and three scores.
Up 28-21 at the half, Coatesville scored two touchdowns in the second half to take a three-touchdown lead. La Salle rallied back, moving within 42-35 with 4:38 to go, and though the Crusaders had one last chance, a late Coatesville interception sealed the deal. La Salle was down several players due to injuries, but quarterback Chris Kane tried to keep his team in the game with a 265 passing yards.
Coatesville might need every last point against North Allegheny. The Tigers took a team built on defense, Wilson West Lawn, and shredded it for 45 points. Quarterback Mack Leftwich was 17-of-28 for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Running back Alex DeCiantis carried 22 times for 111 yards to augment Leftwich's aerial attack.
Wilson scored on the opening kickoff, but beyond that touchdown, the Bulldogs didn't do much on offense. North Allegheny held Wilson to 103 total yards, and after the opening kickoff, the Tigers never looked back. It was 24-7 at the end of the first half, and though North Allegheny went scoreless in the third quarter, they scored 21 straight points to end the game.
Any thought that this year would be different between Archbishop Wood and Allentown Central Catholic evaporated in the first half. A year after routing Allentown Central Catholic 70-14 in the eastern final, Wood ran for 379 yards in the first half and scored on its first five possessions en route to a 36-6 win and a return trip to the state finals.
This time, instead of the Peoples cousins, it was Andrew Guckin and Josh Messina who ran wild in the first half. Messina needed just eight carries to reach 101 yards, while Guckin picked up 140 yards on 10 carries. Messina ran for a score and caught a touchdown, and Guckin scored on a 10-yard run. Not that Wood needed the boost, but quarterback Tom Garlick also tossed two first half touchdowns.
Wood's dominant performance ended Colin McDermott's yeoman-like work in the playoffs for Allentown Central Catholic. McDermott threw ACC's offense on his back in the playoffs and carried 29 times for 179 yards. It just wasn't enough against Wood's onslaught.
Bishop McDevitt understands how Allentown Central Catholic feels. With their game tied at 3 just before the half, McDevitt watched as Cathedral Prep scored 35 unanswered points. That included two touchdown runs by Damion Terry that bracketed halftime and that was all Prep needed.
Terry threw for 165 yards and two scores - both going to Jake DeHart - and ran for another 75 yards and those two touchdowns. DeHart had three total touchdowns, and then the Prep defense did the rest.
Despite an offense featuring the likes of Alec Werner, Brian Lemelle, Andre Robinson, and Rashad Lawson, McDevitt managed just 32 yards in the second half and 143 for the game.
Richland threw everything it had at Aliquippa, but the Quips' vintage offense was just too powerful. Behind 232 yards and four touchdowns from Dravon Henry, Aliquippa steamrolled past Richland 37-21.
The Rams kept trying. They used a fake punt, the swinging-gate, trick plays, anything and everything they thought might surprise the Quips and swing momentum their way. Matt Shaffer threw for 258 yards for Richland, but he also threw three interceptions. The 21 points were the most Aliquippa had given up all year long, but Richland had no answer for Aliquippa's ground game, as the Quips piled up 385 rushing yards.
The Quips are bound for Hershey for the first time since 2003, but they won't be taking on the team everyone expected them to face. Imhotep Charter's run came to an end at the hands of Alex Anzalone and Wyomissing, as the clinical efficiency of Wyomissing's offense and the physicality of its defense were too much for Imhotep.
Anzalone carried 18 times for 148 yards out of Wyomissing's Wing-T offense as the Spartans dropped Imhotep 35-13. He had help, as recently eligible QB Corey Unger provided balance to the offense, tossing a 46-yard touchdown pass and using a 50-yard bomb to set up another touchdown.
Imhotep got a strong performance from four-star running back David Williams, who carried 22 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. But Imhotep had no answer on defense. The Panthers had given up 73 points all season, only to give up almost half of that on Saturday.
For one quarter, Clairton and Port Allegany were even. At halftime, the underdog Gators trailed Clairton 16-6. With the state's all-time leading passer, Matt Bodamer, at their disposal, Port Allegany clearly was within striking distance. Would Clairton finally fall?
In a word, no.
Clairton scored 15 straight points in the third quarter and by the end of the game, had an easy 44-12 win. Clairton won its 63rd straight game and moved on to the PIAA Class A final in search of its fourth straight state title. Tyler Boyd scored three touchdowns, QB Armani Ford threw for 195 yards, and Terrish Webb had 105 receiving yards.
Clairton's defense stole the show, though, holding Port Allegany to a season low 12 points and holding Bodamer to just 12-of-24 passing for 193 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
That's what Dunmore will get when they make the trek in to Hershey to take on Clairton. But Dunmore will give the Bears a little bit different taste on offense. Just ask Bellwood-Antis.
Behind the dynamic duo of Austin Seamon and Daiqwon Buckley, Dunmore ran for 386 yards and six touchdowns as Dunmore won 40-19. Dunmore's size along the line was just too much for Bellwood-Antis to handle.
Bellwood actually had the game tied at 13 in the second quarter and trailed just 19-13 at the half, but Dunmore took over from there. Buckley carried 22 times for 223 yards and four touchdowns while Seamon added 163 yards and two touchdowns, with most of it coming in the second half.
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