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Thursday, November 24, 2022 | 9:00 PM


WPIAL Class A football championship

No. 1 Bishop Canevin vs. No. 10 Union

11 a.m. Friday, Acrisure Stadium

Video stream: tribhssn.triblive.com

Radio: KDKA (1020 AM, 100.1 FM)

Winner plays: District 10 champion Reynolds (11-1) or District 9 champion Port Allegany (11-1) in a PIAA semifinal Dec. 2 or 3.

WPIAL titles: Bishop Canevin 2 (1990, 2021), Union 1 (1959)

Bishop Canevin (12-1)

Player to watch: Xavier Nelson

Acrisure Stadium has a new name since last season but Nelson will surely recognize the place. The big-play wide receiver and defensive back starred there in the 2021 WPIAL finals with three touchdowns in a 42-7 win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. He scored on catches of 67 and 35 yards, and returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Kole Olszewski 85-128, 1,373 yards, 16 TDs; Jason Cross 50-85, 1,277 yards, 18 TDs, 2 INTs

Rushing: Marquis Carter 182-1,545 11 TDs

Receiving: Xavier Nelson 39-1,230 yards, 18 TDs

How they got here: No. 1 Bishop Canevin defeated No. 16 Jeannette, 63-14, in the first round; No. 9 Clairton, 29-6, in the quarterfinals and No. 5 South Side, 49-21, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Rich Johnson

Offense

OT, 52, Justin Lashley, 6-1, 240, sr.

G, 63, Zeke Swift, 6-0, 275, jr.

C, 54, Braiden Sudor, 5-10, 210, so.

G, 55, Camden Cooley, 5-9, 265, jr.

OT, 79, Nico Margittai, 6-4, 325, sr.

TE, 88, Mark Jameson, 6-1, 175, so.

(or) TE, 10, Henry Barbisch, 6-4, 205, so.

WR, 6, Xavier Nelson, 5-8, 160, sr.

WR, 3, Lasae Lacks, 5-7, 140, sr.

QB, 2 Jason Cross, 6-0, 165, jr.

(or) QB, 15, Kole Olszewski, 5-10, 165, so.

Defense

DT, 36, Daisean Lacks, 6-0, 215, so.

DT, 54, Braiden Sudor, 5-10, 210, so.

DE, 10, Henry Barbisch, 6-4, 205, so.

DE, 13, Daiveon Taylor, 6-2, 205, fr.

OLB, 34, Jermell Lindsey, 5-6, 180, so.

MLB, 44, Braden Travis, 5-11, 185, sr.

OLB, 9, Keyshawn McCaskill, 6-2, 175, sr.

CB, 6, Xavier Nelson, 5-8, 160, sr.

CB, 8, Jayden Lindsey, 5-6, 135, so.

SS, 7, A’Zjaun Marshall, 5-9, 160, jr.

FS, 2 Jason Cross, 6-0, 165, jr.

Special teams

K, 4, Geno DeFrank, 5-9, 150, sr.

P, 6, Xavier Nelson, 5-8, 160, sr.

LS, 10, Henry Barbisch, 6-4, 205, so.

Notable: Bishop Canevin is the defending WPIAL champion. The Crusaders defeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 42-7, in last year’s finals … Coach Rich Johnson is 30-6 in three season … The Crusaders’ only loss this year was to Steelton-Highspire, 21-14, in Week Zero. The Steamrollers are ranked No. 1 in PIAA Class A and are competing in a state quarterfinal on Saturday … Canevin led all WPIAL Class A teams in scoring defense by holding opponents to 8.7 points per game. Eight of 13 opponents were held to a touchdown or less with four shutouts … Braden Travis leads the team with 113 total tackles. Daiveon Taylor has 76 tackles and a team-high 17 sacks. … Jayden Lindsey and Jason Cross have six interceptions each … Offensively, the team averages 41.8 points and scored 60 or more three times … The Crusaders use two quarterbacks and both have passed for more than 1,200 yards this season.

Union (10-3)

Player to watch: Braylon Thomas

Thomas already has more than 1,000 rushing yards and needs only 19 more passing yards to reach that milestone through the air. The junior quarterback scored the game-winning touchdown on a 58-yard run in the semifinals against Rochester. He also threw for two touchdowns in the win.

Statistical leaders

Passing: Braylon Thomas 59-130, 981 yards, 10 TDs, 10 INTs

Rushing: Braylon Thomas 192-1,168 yards, 15 TDs

Receiving: Maddox Thompson 16-210 yards, 2 TDs

How they got here: No. 10 Union defeated No. 7 Burgettstown, 32-7, in the first round, No. 2 Laurel, 30-28, in the quarterfinals and No. 14 Rochester, 18-16, in the semifinals.

Probable starting lineup

Coach: Kim Niedbala

Offense

LT, 53, Jamel Mitchell, 6-2, 200, so.

LG, 78, Jordan Brown, 6-2, 230, jr.

C, 54, Mason Benedict, 5-10, 230, sr.

RG, 66, Robert McCurdy, 6-0, 195, jr.

RT, Mike Thomas, 6-2, 250, sr.

WR, 21, Dayne Johnke, 6-1, 170, jr.

WR, 7, Maddox Thompson, 6-0, 175, so.

WR, 10, Elijah Booker, 5-10, 150, sr.

WR, 4, Matt Stanley, 5-10, 180, sr.

TE, 20, Kaden Fisher, 6-4, 200, sr.

FB, 44, Mark Stanley, 6-2, 250, sr.

RB, 24, Mike Gunn, 6-0, 175, jr.

QB, 2, Braylon Thomas, 6-2, 180, jr.

Defense

DE, 53, Jamel Mitchell, 6-2, 200, so.

DT, 44, Mark Stanley, 6-2, 250, sr.

DE, 55, Antonio Perez, 5-10, 180, sr.

LB, 20, Kaden Fisher, 6-4, 200, sr.

LB, 8, Brennen Porter, 6-1, 190, sr.

LB, 4, Matt Stanley, 5-10, 180, sr.

LB, 7, Maddox Thompson, 6-0, 175, so.

DB, 10, Elijah Booker, 5-10, 150, sr.

DB, 24, Mike Gunn, 6-0, 175, jr.

DB, 25, Grayson Blakely, 6-0, 170, jr.

DB, 21, Dayne Johnke, 6-1, 170, jr.

Special teams

K/P, 2, Braylon Thomas, 6-2, 180, jr.

Notable: Union has reached the WPIAL finals for the first time since a runner-up finish to Springdale, 20-14, in the 1973 Class 2A championship game. This is the team’s third appearance overall. The Scotties tied Avonworth, 13-13, in 1959 … Kim Niedbala is a first-year head coach after stints as an assistant at Mt. Lebanon, West Allegheny, Edinboro University and Clarion University … His father Rich Niedbala won three WPIAL titles at Western Beaver (1976, ’83 and ’94) … The Scotties have twice as many rushing yards (2,192) as passing yards (1,006). Four rushers have topped 200 yards: Braylon Thomas (1,168 yards), Mike Gunn (403), Andrew Cartwright (264) and Matt Stanley (262). … Union finished second in the Big Seven Conference. The team is the first double-digit seed to reach the WPIAL finals since No. 14 Central Valley won the Class 3A title in 2010 … Union averages 28.3 ppg on offense and allows 16.9 on defense.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags: Bishop Canevin, Union



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