2022 WPIAL A Football Championship Breakdown: Bishop Canevin vs. Union

Through:


Thursday, November 24, 2022 | 9.00


WPIAL Class A Football Championship

Bishop Canevin #1 vs. Union #10

11am 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 on December 2nd or 3rd.

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

Bishop Canevin (12-1)

Player to watch: Xavier Nelson

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

Statistical Guide

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

Rush: Marquis Carter 182-1545 11 TDs

Reception: 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 Quarters and No. 5 South Side, 49-21, in the Semis.

Estimated starting lineup

Coaches: 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 absent, 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.

Remarkable: 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 seasons. … The Crusaders’ only loss this year was to Steelton-Highspire, 21-14, in Week Zero. The Steamrollers are ranked No. 1 in the PIAA Class A and will compete in a state quarterfinals on Saturday. … Canevin led all WPIAL Class A teams in goal defense by holding opponents to 8.7 points per game. Eight of 13 opponents were held on 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 each have six interceptions. … Offensively, the team averages 41.8 points and has scored 60 or more points on three occasions. … The Crusaders use two quarterbacks and both have passed 1,200 yards this season.

Union (10-3)

Player to watch: Braylon Thomas

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

Statistical Guide

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

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

Reception: 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.

Estimated starting lineup

Coaches: 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, Burn 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.

Remarkable: Union has reached the WPIAL Finals for the first time since a second-place finish against Springdale (20-14) in the 1973 Class 2A championship game. It’s the team’s third appearance overall. The Scotties separated Avonworth 13-13 in 1959. … Kim Niedbala is a freshman head coach after serving 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 they have passing yards (1,006). Four rushers have surpassed 200 yards: Braylon Thomas (1,168 yards), Mike Gunn (403), Andrew Cartwright (264), and Matt Stanley (262). … Union finished second at the Big Seven Conference. The team is the first double digit seed to reach the WPIAL Finals since #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 contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact Chris via email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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