4 • SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2022 • TRIBUNE-REVIEW
1. Central Catholic (9-3)
The Vikings came up just short
of winning a third straight
WPIAL 6A championship last
season, losing to undefeated Mt.
Lebanon in the title game. One
of the top players in the state
returns to anchor the Central
Catholic defense in junior linebacker
Anthony Speca, while junior
quarterback Payton Wehner
is also back along with HSSN
preseason all-star (along with
Speca) junior wide receiver Pete
Gonzalez. It won’t be easy for
the Vikings. Class 6A continues
to shrink but should be more
competitive than it has been in
2. Seneca Valley (7-4)
3. North Allegheny (7-5)
4. Mt. Lebanon (15-0)
5. Canon-McMillan (4-7)
* RECORDS FROM 2021
North Allegheny, Jr., RB/LB
Alualu, the son of Pittsburgh
Steelers defensive lineman Tyson
Alualu, has emerged as the
team’s defensive leader.
Mt. Lebanon, Sr., OT/NG
Capristo was one of the unsung
heroes for last season’s WPIAL
and PIAA champions.
Central Catholic, Jr., WR
The son of former Pitt quarterback
Pete Gonzalez caught 18
passes for 322 yards last year.
Seneca Valley, Sr., WR/S
The two-way standout had 36
receptions for 558 yards and six
touchdowns last fall.
Central Catholic, Jr., H-back/LB
He registered 84 tackles last
fall, with four sacks and four
forced fumbles. He has over 20
D-I offers from the likes of Pitt,
Penn State, West Virginia, Ohio
State, Michigan and Notre Dame.
9.16 Mt. Lebanon vs. Central
Catholic at Carnegie Mellon
This is the rematch of the 2021
championship game won by Mt.
Lebanon, 47-7. Since 2016, Mt.
Lebanon is 4-3 overall against
Central Catholic, but the Vikings
are 2-1 against the Blue Devils in
9.23 North Allegheny vs.
Central Catholic at West Mifflin
The schools have split their last
six meetings, with NA winning
three of the last four regular
10.28 Seneca Valley
at North Allegheny
A playoff post, positioning or a
shot at the 6A regular season
title could be at stake.
Central Catholic quarterback Payton Wehner threw for 1,460 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.
At its zenith, the highest classification
in the WPIAL, then
called Quad-A, had 28 teams in
the early 2000s.
That number stayed steady
over the next decade-plus and
was at 25 teams for the 2014 and
Expansion to six classifications
has steadily shrunk 6A,
which started with 14 teams in
2016. That number dropped to
nine teams in 2018 and eight
teams in 2020.
When the new PIAA cutoff
numbers for 6A were determined
earlier this year, the WPIAL was
left with only five teams in Class
Over the last few years, 6A
football has become predictable
with little urgency in the regular
season and familiarity in the
postseason where every playoff
game is a rematch.
“It is a huge concern when
half of the schedule is against 5A
teams,” North Allegheny coach
Art Walker said. “It’s a tough
situation regarding playing that
many games that do not have
playoff implications. I’m not sure
if there is one (solution) unless
we pull in other 6A teams from
“It is concerning,” Seneca Valley
coach Ron Butschle agreed.
“For the remaining 6A teams,
the season is just a race to the
finish where we see each other
again and again. I miss the days
of Quad-A where there were several
different scenarios as far as
playoffs go for our teams. It made
the planning and preparation
One option discussed in the
past that hasn’t gained much
momentum is having 6A and
5A teams together in geographical
conferences for the regular
season, then separate for the
“With the present situation in
Pennsylvania, I firmly believe
that we will never go back to
four classes,” Canon-McMillan
coach Mike Evans said. “But for
the sake of the entire state, we
need take a good look at restructuring
into a 5A format if that
helps distribute the teams better
across the state so there isn’t an
entire class with only five teams
in a district as large as WPIAL.”
While the future of 6A football
is loaded with questions, the 2022
season should shape up as one of
the more competitive campaigns
in recent years.
Four of the five teams are
returning standout quarterbacks,
including three juniors.
Evans threw for 1,596 yards and
13 touchdowns last year, Logan
Kushner of North Allegheny
racked up 1,481 yards and 12
touchdowns, and Payton Wehner
of Central Catholic tallied
1,460 yards passing and 17 touchdowns.
Seneca Valley senior Graham
Hancox also returns after throwing
for 1,054 yards and eight
touchdowns a year ago.
The only new starting quarterback
will be for defending district
and state champion Mt. Lebanon.
Senior Alex Gevauden and
sophomore David Shields will
battle to replace Joey Daniels,
who was 112 for 189 passing for
2,118 yards and 31 touchdowns
by DON REBEL