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Clarion and DuBois Central Catholic played the first District 9 PIAA championship game in any sport Thursday at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Clarion won its first Class A state title by defeating DCC 4-1.

The Cardinals and Clarion were part of a “bigger” win despite their second consecutive PIAA gold medal loss.

High school baseball’s greatest stage hosted District 9’s two teams. Both teams battled in the finals.

The game and how well both teams performed should change the minds of sports fans across the state who think District 9 athletes and teams aren’t “good” because we’re in a rural area.

since 2006. I was used to it growing up in Somerset County and playing sports and covering them at the Bedford Gazette in District 5, another rural area of the state.

Those criticisms are due to my 17 years here. Team sports, especially, have been state competitors in the past decade.

Curwensville softball and Punxsutawney baseball won state crowns.

Johnsonburg baseball and DCC boys basketball challenged for state titles in 2007.

In my first six or seven years here, witnessing our teams compete in state semifinals or championship games was unusual.

Most team sports have changed that in the previous decade.

Since 2012, District 9 teams—mostly from the Tri-County Area—have won state titles in baseball, softball, wrestling, girls volleyball, football, basketball, and boys soccer.

District 9’s finest baseball and softball seasons were 2012–2023, excluding 2020 due to COVID-19.

How much?

23 teams (10 baseball, 13 softball) made the state playoffs. Six state champions—three in baseball and three in softball—were among the nine finalists.

Bishop McCort defeated Elk County Catholic in the 2012 Class A semifinals.

A year later, Johnsonburg crushed Canton 5-0 to win PIAA gold, months after the same players won state basketball silver.

Elk County Catholic returned as Class A state runner-up following a heartbreaking 2-1, 9-inning loss to Devon Prep in 2014.

Meyersdale defeated Clarion 2-0 in the 2017 Class A finals. Class 2A semifinalist Brookville.

Two D-9 baseball teams were championship contenders last year.

DuBois Central Catholic defeated Halifax 12-2 in the finals for their second state victory (2001 was the first).

Punxsutawney tied DCC in Class 3A until the state playoffs, where they fell 6-5 to Central, the champion.

DCC and Punxsy faced identical circumstances a year later.

The Cardinals returned to Thursday’s final after three thrilling Eastern half state wins this year. Clarion won the season series 2-1 with a 4-1 win against DCC.

Punxsy lost 8-5 to WPIAL champion Riverside in the Class 3A playoffs again. Riverside, like Central, won the state title after beating the Chucks.

Riverside won its sixth state title Thursday after defeating Camp Hill 4-0.

DuBois reached the state quarterfinals in 2014. State champion Souderton beat the Lady Beavers 2-0.

ECC won Class A softball gold for District 9.

DCC fell to Class A runner-up West Greene in the 2016 playoffs, while Moniteau finished second in Class 2A. In 2017, West Greene won and Central Catholic reached the semis.

D-9’s 2018 Class 3A softball champion was Punxsy.

DuBois Central Catholic finished as the state runner-up after losing 5-0 to Williams Valley in the finals.

Clearfield (3A) and Cranberry (2A) were 2019 state semifinalists. Cranberry lost to champion Frazier.

COVID-19 finished 2020 spring sports.

DCC (A) and Punxsy (3A) reached the 2021 state playoffs, where the Lady Chucks fell to Mount Pleasant.

District 9 featured two state-championship softball teams last year.

DuBois Central Catholic was PIAAs Class A runner-up for the second time in four years. Clearfield defeated Tunkhannock 3-2 in Class 4A.

In the past decade, District 9 has succeeded in baseball and softball at the state level and other sports.

Clarion volleyball won three Class A state titles (2012, 2020-21) and finished twice in 2010 and 2011. Brookville won gold in the 2016 Class AA team wrestling competition, their second state victory.

Brookville (Class 2A) and Redbank Valley football reached the Class A finals in 2021.

Brockway boys soccer reached two Class A state semifinals (2017, 2021).

DCC coach Adam Fox says District 9 is a success magnet. All push. We discussed it in our interviews. Coaches care. Look at all the PBR players in DuBois. DuBois and District 9 athletes prosper.

A, AA, AAA—big school, tiny school—are debatable. It’s 9-9. Punxsy coach Mike Dickey agrees. Work, not class. This year, his superb group set the standard, and now this undefeated Riverside club, undoubtedly the favorite here, is taking them out.

District 9’s amazing. Redbank Valley, Johnsonburg, Clarion, and Clarion-Limestone—our small-town brilliance. Football and basketball—Elk County Catholic’s.

WPIAL and bigger district teams no longer “wow” District 9 teams. They’re good, but our run has big expectations. Since we succeed together, we think we can win the final game.

Coaches, athletes, and district deserve praise. As usual, District 9 sharpens iron. It’s hard.”

So, anyone who thinks District 9 sports aren’t as excellent as other districts in the state is uniformed or doesn’t understand D-9, especially spring baseball and softball.

By Sanjh

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