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Football after the season became more difficult in the year 22

By Michael Boytim

mboytim@altoonamirror.com

High school football fans in the region have been accustomed to the PIAA deep playoffs for at least one or two teams each season lately, but that’s going to be an even bigger challenge this season.

While the District 6 Class 3A champion will have a similar path to years past, the District 6 Class 1A champion will have to win two PIAA playoffs to reach the state final instead of one, and the District 5 Class 1A champion will have to win three.

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic will pose a threat to win a District 6 Class 2A title this year after being forced to move from Class 1A due to a PIAA success formula after they won the 1A state championship in 2021, but if the Thieves do state work in the playoffs, they will likely play Southern Columbia in Their first match.

Southern Columbia, of District 4, has had more success than anyone else in high school football lately, but has won a residency appeal in 2A and is likely to play whoever wins the District 6 Class 2A title in the PIAA quarterfinals.

My advice to local football fans this year is to get a taste of the regional qualifiers when they come in, because there will be some excellent football being played between some great teams. It’s possible that none of the winners will continue to play in the state championship, which is a good thing – because coming out of some of those areas with titles this season would be something to be really proud of when you look at how equal on the court they look.

We’ll start with District 5 Category 1A where Northern Bedford and Windsor are likely to be on a collision course. Both teams can run the ball on anyone, and yes, Windber tackled the Black Panthers in a regular game last season, but Northern Bedford has made huge strides since that point. If these teams come together in the post-season, whoever comes out on top will truly have won those area medals regardless of performance in the playoff category that could see the winner take on a force like Stilton-Highsper in the first round.

In Zone 6 Category 6A, Altoona, State College and Mifflin County are all 2-0 up for the first time ever. Mifflin County and Altoona play tonight, and while State College appears to be the favorites at the moment, there’s still a whole season in Mid-Penn to go through before we see the best version of these two teams at the end of the season.

The District 6 Class 3A Championship is also shaping up to be fun as Penn Cambria and Tyrone are currently undefeated and Central loses their first regular season loss since 2019. We’ll get another preview of a potential post-season game in this class tonight when the Dragon travels to Creson.

The Category 2A field in District 6 will include Richland, Bellwood Antis and the previously mentioned Thieves. It looks like the Rams have reloaded them and are trying to win their fifth straight 2A title, but BG and BA may have closed the gap between them a bit.

Northern Cambria shook my predictions of the prospect of Cambria Heights entering the District 1A tournament as the top seed, but the Highlanders rebounded with a big win over Portage – another team that will be in contention on the field. Watch how the Highlands and Mustangs do against the Homer-Center, as Wildcats are always a threat at this level.

Just as in many of the top rankings, the team that lifts the trophy here may not do so if the tournament is played again, a sign of an even playing field that should make football fun in November.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 814-946-7521

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