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PIAA “AAAA” Western Final – Wilson-West Lawn Preview

Written by: on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008


The Game: PIAA “AAAA” Western Final

Date: Saturday, Dec. 6th, 2008, from Memorial Stadium in State College

At stake: Winner will play either North Penn or Bethlehem Liberty for the “AAAA” state championship, Saturday, Dec. 13th, at Hersheypark Stadium.

Guess who’s back in the PIAA semifinals for the first time in nearly two decades?  If you answered Wilson, congratulations, you are a walking football encyclopedia.  And the way the Bulldogs are playing right now, it appears the 18 years was worth the wait.

Wilson last played in a PIAA semifinal in 1990, when the Bulldogs fell to Ridley, 14-12.  Ridley finished as the PIAA runner-up to WPIAL champion North Allegheny, 21-14, one week later at Hersheypark Stadium.

Wilson also played in the 1988 PIAA semifinals, defeating PSFCA Hall-of-Fame coach Mike Dominic and his Coatesville Area Red Raiders, 32-20.  Wilson finished as the PIAA runner-up to Upper St. Clair, 12-7, one week later.

So now Wilson (14-0) gets its shot at first-timer Bethel Park (14-0) this Saturday at Memorial Stadium in downtown State College.  But for Wilson, history isn’t on its side when it comes to District 3 in PIAA semifinals.

District 3, all-time, is just 11-31 (.261) in semifinal games, and in those 42 appearances, D3 has been outscored 877-541 (or a 20-13 average).

Hold on, it gets better.  Lancaster-Lebanon League schools are just 4-11 (.267) in PIAA semifinals, and against the WPIAL, District 3 is 4-7 all-time (.363). 

Only 1992 Cumberland Valley, 1995 Bishop McDevitt, 2003 Manheim Central, and 2007 Steelton-Highspire have had success against Pennsylvania’s largest geographic district.  Ironically, those four teams defeated the WPIAL to win PIAA titles.

District 3 “AAAA” schools are 0-3 against the WPIAL since the district was moved into the western portion of the bracket, and has been outscored 72-19 in those three games.  Prior to 2004, D3 had last faced the WPIAL in the 1995 “AAAA” state title game – Lower Dauphin fell to Penn Hills, 35-14.

However, despite all the unfavorable history, Wilson boasts one of the best defensive units in the state.  They might not be huge, or boast a slew of D-1 recruits, but the red and white are lean, mean, and ready to hit.  The Bulldogs have tossed four shutouts and only allowed one of their 14 opponents to top 14 points in a game.

On average, Wilson allows 7.1 points per game.  Its first string defense hasn’t allowed a point this postseason.

Offensively, Wilson averages 349 yards and 40 points per game.  The Bulldogs are led by Zacc Groff (1,604 rush yards, 23 TD) and Dylan Stopper (564 rush yards, 85 rec., yards 20 TD scored).  Quarterback Steve Huber has been efficient, throwing for nearly 1,330 yards and 12 TD.  His favorite receiver is senior Alex Fegley, whose 42 catches for 808 yards and 11 TD lead the team.

NOTE: Berks County last had a representative in the PIAA semifinals in 2006 – Wyomissing held an early lead, but fell to eventual PIAA champion Wilson Area, 21-13.

Wilson averages 22 points per game in the PIAA semifinals while allowing 17.

Wilson stats are from the Lancaster Newspapers’ website,; PIAA semifinals information from the 2007 PIAA finals media guide.



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