After an undefeated run to the PIAA Class 2A championship game, a near-perfect season ended in heartache for City League champion Westinghouse for the second year in a row.

Despite losing a handful of key seniors to graduation, though, the Bulldogs will be among the leading contenders for a state title once again next season — and 2024 might just be the year “The House” finally gets its ring.

Why so much cause for optimism? Well, it all starts with coach Donta Green. As has been the case for as long as high school football has been played, if you have an extraordinary coach, you typically will have an extraordinary football team. That doesn’t change just because certain players graduate, because the culture instilled in the program is strong enough to overcome those losses, and the players are coached all the way from the youth level on up to be ready to step in and become the team’s next star.

With Green at the helm, Westinghouse has soared to new heights over the past five seasons, compiling an overall record of 52-8 while capturing four City League titles, qualifying for the state playoffs three times and reaching two state championship games. It’s safe to say he is already in rarified air among the greatest active coaches in all of Western Pa., and there’s no doubt he’ll have his players and staff more motivated than ever to finish the job next fall.

“We’ve got to turn the page,” Green said. “We’ve just got to regroup and get ourselves together. I told them they have until tonight to kind of drown in their sorrows a little bit, but tomorrow, it’s a new day, and we’ve got to get back at it.”

Of course, a great coach can only do so much without great players, and lucky for Green, he has a roster chalk full of them. Quarterback Khalil Green will be back to run the show as a senior after totaling 321 yards (205 passing, 116 rushing) and three total TDs in a heart-pounding 21-20 defeat against Southern Columbia in the PIAA title game. All season long, Green looked like a polished veteran in his first year after taking over for record-setting passer Keyshawn Morsillo, displaying an NFL-caliber deep ball along with joystick-like moves as a runner.

“The brighter the lights, the better he plays,” Green said. “We’re looking forward to getting back to work with him this offseason.”

Westinghouse’s Khalil Green led the Bulldogs to a 13-1 record and a second consecutive state championship appearance in his first year as a starter. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).

The Bulldogs should be loaded at the skill positions as well. Lloyd Penn will likely take over for Taymir O’Neal as the team’s No. 1 receiver as a senior, and freshman K’Shawn Hawkins came on strong in the second half of the season as an explosive big-play threat. They should form a tremendous one-two punch as Green’s top receiving targets, but expect some other new names to emerge next fall as well. Freshman Laimon Bates is a top breakout candidate at running back to watch for next season.

On the defensive side of the ball, Westinghouse loses a pair of stellar senior pass-rushers in Mike Richardson and Sincere Shannon, but 6-foot-4, 270-pound behemoth Byron Lewis will return to resume his place as a wrecking machine in the middle of the defensive line. Also, defensive end Josiah Collins (6-2, 220) is already receiving Division I interest as a sophomore, and he nearly made the biggest play in school history with an apparent game-winning strip sack against Southern Columbia, if not for a defensive holding penalty that wiped away the play. Expect him to be a dominant force coming off the edge over the next two seasons.

Sophomore defensive lineman Josiah Collins (9) will be back next year to help lead a fierce defensive unit for Westinghouse. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Elsewhere, sophomore cornerback Kyshawn Robinson is the team’s most heralded prospect, and he’ll be counted on even more next season as a leader in the secondary. Robinson already holds several Power Five offers, including from USC and Colorado, and he has started since his freshman year for the Bulldogs’ lights-out defense. He also saw some time at running back this year alongside Ty Abram, and with Abram graduating in the spring, he should see an uptick in carries next year as a junior.

Needless to say, the cupboard will be far from bare for Westinghouse next season, and a third consecutive trip to the state title game would hardly come as a surprise to anybody. Green would never allow himself or his team to look that far ahead, but rest assured, the Bulldogs will be back to work as soon as the calendar flips to January to embark on their mission for the ultimate prize — that elusive first state title.

“It’s the same process,” Green said. “We’ve got to get over ourselves. … Just get back to work. I have some more things that we’ve got to work on this offseason that I’m going to be drilling into them from day one.”

Westinghouse’s Kyshawn Robinson is one of the top cornerback prospects in the state, and the standout sophomore could also see an uptick in carries for the Bulldogs next season. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

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Aliquippa quarterback Quentin “Cheese” Goode capped off his storied career with a third consecutive WPIAL title and a second PIAA championship along with an overall record of 41-2 as a starter, and the Quips will sorely miss his winning ways and lovable personality.

That being said, there will still be plenty of “Goode” vibes at Aliquippa next season.

Sophomore Qa’lil Goode flew under the radar on the Quips’ loaded roster for much of the year, but he really had his coming-out party in the postseason. First, he came down with a crucial interception along with a 41-yard reception in Aliquippa’s 35-21 win over McKeesport at Acrisure Stadium in the WPIAL Class 4A championship game. But in a 60-14 blowout over District 2 champion Dallas in the PIAA Class 4A final on Thursday, Goode looked like a star in the making.

“Tonight and the [WPIAL championship game] were my coming-out parties, but tonight I really stamped it,” Goode said after the state championship win. “[My brother] is the G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time], and I’ve got some big shoes to fill.”

Aliquippa’s Qa’lil Goode runs with the ball after coming down with a crucial interception against McKeesport during the WPIAL Class 4A championship on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, at Acrisure Stadium. Aliquippa won, 35-21, to claim its third consecutive WPIAL title. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

A lanky, athletic wide receiver-defensive back who tallied six interceptions on the year, Goode (6-0, 150) corralled a hat trick of picks in the first half against Dallas, returning his third INT for an 85-yard pick-six that gave the Quips a commanding 40-14 halftime lead and all but secured their fifth state title. He beamed with joy after the game, displaying the same infectious charisma his older brother became known for during his record-setting career.

Just don’t expect Goode to take over the reins at quarterback.

“No sir,” he said with a laugh.

Speaking of that 85-yard interception return, it ranks as the third-longest pick-six in PIAA championship game history, according to reputed Twitter account @pa_fb_history. The top three on the list were all recorded by WPIAL or City League players, and all three proved to be key moments in leading their teams to a state title.

Perry legend Darnell “Pepsi” Farrow lays claim to the second-longest INT return with a 99-yard pick-six to clinch the Commodores’ 20-8 win against nationally ranked Berwick in the 1989 PIAA Class 3A final, becoming the first and only City League team to win a state crown. And former Penn Hills star Daequan Hardy notched a record-setting 100-yard pick-six to help the Indians topple Manheim Central, 36-31, in the 2018 PIAA Class 5A title game. Hardy is now a standout defensive back at Penn State.

End of an era?

Southern Columbia extended its unfathomable streak of state titles to seven in a row while also reaching the state finals for the ninth year in a row, but the Tigers could find a tough road ahead next season in their attempt to reach a 10th consecutive PIAA championship game.

Year in and year out, Southern Columbia churns out 1,000-yard rushers like a conveyor belt, with a seemingly endless supply of Garcia brothers carrying the load over the past several years. Like Gaige and Gavin Garcia before him, Garrett Garcia helped lead the Tigers to a state title this season after missing his entire junior year with a knee injury, finishing his senior year with 1,762 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Louden Murphy (1,570 yards, 25 touchdowns) and Carter Madden (851 yards, 10 touchdowns) combined with Garcia to form a wicked trio in Southern Columbia’s backfield, helping the Tigers rush for an average of 300.3 yards per game on the season. But all three players will be graduating in the spring, as will quarterback Blake Wise, as well as leading receivers Jacob Hoy and Kyle Christman. On defense, seniors Isaac Carter and Colden Bloom were the most disruptive players on Southern Columbia’s defensive line, leaving all-state junior linebacker Dominic Fetterolf as the only star player returning on either side of the ball.

Louden Murphy helped form a three-headed monster in Southern Columbia’s backfield this year, but each of the Tigers’ leading rushers and receivers will graduate in the spring. (Matt Freed/Pittsburgh Union Progress).

No team has ever reached 10 consecutive PIAA championship games, although the Tigers have made it nine times in a row on two separate occasions (1998-06, 2015-present). Southern Columbia has played in 22 state title games in the past 30 years, holding an all-time record of 14-8 in the big game.

Of course, only a fool would bet against the Tigers finding a way to get back to the state finals. But if we do wind up witnessing a trilogy matchup between Southern Columbia and Westinghouse, the Bulldogs might be the rightful favorite this time around.

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Steve Rotstein

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at