20 • SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2022 • VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
1. Beaver Falls (9-4)
If the Tigers had turned the ball
over, say, three or four times in
the WPIAL finals against Serra
Catholic last season, they probably
would be coming into this
season as two-time defending
champs. Instead, they turned it
over nine times and are looking
for redemption. Pretty much
everybody’s back — a dangerous
crop of skill players and four
starters on the line.
2. Steel Valley (11-1)
3. Washington (9-1)
4. Sto-Rox (12-1)
5. Serra Catholic (15-2)
* RECORDS FROM 2021
Steel Valley, Sr., QB/CB
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Brookins
is of Class 2A’s top quarterbacks,
but what makes him
stand out is his physicality. He
seeks out contact on offense
and delivers hits on defense.
Washington, Sr., QB/DB
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Fuse
probably projects as a linebacker
at Rutgers, but under center for
Washington, he’s a game breaker
with a long stride, great acceleration
and 4.4 speed.
Sto-Rox, Sr., QB
A lanky, 6-foot-3 lefty, Jenkins
can burn defenses with his legs,
but he’d rather stand in the
pocket and throw with his strong
and accurate arm.
Sto-Rox, Sr., WR/DB
The 6-foot, 171-pound Miller-Ross
has the speed to make plays on
offense, but it really shows on
defense. He runs to the ball and
is adept at forcing turnovers.
Steel Valley, Sr., OT/DT
Smith is no lumbering 6-5,
315-pounder. He has the athleticism
to pull in the run game
and the mean streak to finish
his blocks with authority.
9.23 Beaver Falls at
The Lancers are the Tigers’ top
competition in the MAC, and
last year this was a barnburner,
won by Beaver Falls on a Jaren
Brickner TD pass in the final
10.7 Washington at Sto-Rox
This could be a doozy of a conference
rivalry the next two years.
And what a quarterback matchup
— Davoun Fuse vs. Josh Jenkins.
10.28 Steel Valley at Serra
The Ironmen beat the Eagles,
28-7, in the regular season finale
last year, then had to watch
their conference rivals go on to
win a WPIAL title.
Quarterback Jaren Brickner is Beaver Falls’ all-time leading passer.
In one sense, WPIAL Class 2A
football looks radically different
Four conferences have been
consolidated into three with the
total number of teams in the
class dropping from 27 to 23.
Nine of the 27 teams that
played 2A football in the WPIAL
last season moved out. That includes
Laurel, which won the
Midwestern Athletic Conference
with a 7-0 record, and two other
playoff teams in Shady Side
Academy and Beth-Center.
Five of the 23 teams in the
class this year are newcomers.
That includes Imani Christian,
with former Sto-Rox coach La-
Roi Johnson at the helm, and
Keystone Oaks, a solid program
no doubt looking forward to not
being stuck in the same Class 3A
conference with Central Valley
Plenty of changes, to be sure.
But in another very important
sense, things haven’t changed in
Class 2A much at all.
Who are the favorites to claim
a WPIAL championship in November?
Mostly the same blue
blood programs that are in the
hunt most years.
There’s Beaver Falls, five-time
WPIAL champs, most recently
in 2020, soon to join the 700-win
There’s Washington, seven
time WPIAL champs, fourthmost
wins in district history.
Steel Valley, which made three
straight WPIAL finals from 2016-
18, winning two of them.
Sto-Rox, six-time WPIAL finalist
And of course Serra Catholic,
which last year claimed the
program’s third WPIAL championship.
“In Double-A, you have some
teams that have great tradition
and football is a really important
part of the community,” Washington
coach Mike Bosnic said.
“And you have some schools
there that are always going to
have really good athletes. I think
Double-A is going to be really
Steel Valley appears to be the
team to beat in the Allegheny
Conference. Superstar running
back Nijhay Burt is off to Eastern
Illinois, but Kent State recruit
Cruce Brookins is a dynamic
leader at quarterback and Miami
(Ohio) recruit Greg Smith
anchors a physical offensive line.
Serra Catholic suffered massive
graduation losses but could
give the Ironmen a run in the
Allegheny if it continues to play
the kind of ball-hawking defense
that brought a WPIAL title last
Washington is probably the favorite
in the Century and comes
into this season with a chip on
its shoulder, having failed to
win a playoff game the last two
years. The Little Prexies will rely
on playmaker Davoun Fuse at
Realignment has Washington
sharing a conference with a
dangerous Sto-Rox team that returns
six all-conference players
from a year ago, including star
quarterback Josh Jenkins and
disruptive defensive back Dre
Beaver Falls is the odds-on
pick in the Midwestern Athletic
Conference. With Jaren Brickner,
the school’s all-time leading
passer, leading rusher Isaiah
Aeschbacher and leading receiver
Trey Singleton all back, the Tigers
look like a dominant force.
There are wild-card teams that
could upset the apple cart, of
For instance, coaches all over
Class 2A are wondering what
kind of program Johnson will
build at Imani Christian. As
offensive coordinator in 2017,
Johnson led Imani to the WPIAL
finals. He helped Sto-Rox to a
37-9 record over the four seasons
Western Beaver also fits the
wild-card criteria. The Golden
Beavers have a four-year starter
at quarterback in Xander LeFebvre
and are bringing in two
receivers 6-foot-3 or taller as part
of their co-op with Lincoln Park.
“At our level, it’s not like
you need 11 dominant football
players like some of the other
classes,” Beaver Falls coach Nick
Nardone said. “If you’ve got five
or six really good kids, you can
fill in the other spots and be competitive.
Those schools that get
a handful of kids through their
recruiting could be playing for
a championship any given year.”
by JONATHAN BOMBULIE