MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As if there wasn’t enough pressure to win a state title this season, Jeff Weachter coached Thursday’s game fighting a kidney stone.
After posting an 0-4 record in state title games across his 25 years as head coach, Jeff Weachter and the Bishop McDevitt Crusaders won the school’s second state title on Thursday 41-18 over Aliquippa. It was Weachter’s first state title of his career.
“I’ve been waiting 25 years for this,” Weachter said. “As I told [Allie Berube] earlier in the year when [she] said ‘how are you going to win a state championship?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m 0-4. I got to figure it out.’ And I told [her] on the sideline that I figured it out… maybe it was the kidney stone, I don’t know.”
After McDevitt throttled Crestwood 35-0 in the state semifinals on Friday, December 2, Weachter went to work preparing for Aliquippa.
McDevitt was staring down a rematch of their 2021 state championship loss to the Quips. Weachter was starting down a week of doctor’s appointments.
The head coach wasn’t feeling well that weekend after the semifinals, and quickly realized this wasn’t pregame jitters or stress, but something more serious.
Team meetings and doctor appointments blurred together in the days leading up to Thursday’s PIAA 4A State Championship, when Weachter’s doctor told the head coach that he had a kidney stone requiring surgery.
It would have to wait, as the news came less than 72 hours before Weachter would take his fifth shot at winning a state title.
McDevitt jumped out to an early lead against Aliquippa, fueled by taste of revenge and 27 years of title drought following the school’s only state title in 1995.
Despite a late-game two-touchdown surge from Aliquippa, the game was never in question.
McDevitt’s first play from scrimmage immediately erased the memory of 2021 on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Stone Saunders to Tyshawn Russell. By the end of the game the WR would haul in four touchdowns, and 121 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Saunders passed for five touchdowns, setting a state title game record for passing touchdowns in the 41-18 win over Aliquippa.
McDevitt PIAA Championship History
McDevitt went undefeated in 1995 enroute to its first state championship title. The Crusaders shut out Burrell 29-0 in the state title game.
The 1995 team featured a young head coach in Four Chapman, a balanced attack of weapons on both sides of the ball, and starpower like future Notre Dame wide receiver Raki Nelson.
Weachter took over the program in 1997 as head coach for the Crusaders.
McDevitt’s first title game appearance of his tenure was in 2010, but winning one wasn’t easy. The Crusaders went to three state title games in four years.
In 2010, McDevitt lost to Allentown CC 28-7. McDevitt faced Archbishop Wood two of the next three years and lost both games. In 2011, McDevitt fell 52-0. In 2013, the Crusaders lost 22-10.
It would take eight years before McDevitt would be back at Hersheypark Stadium.
“In 2013, I thought we’d be back [to the state title game] in a year or two,” Weachter said. “It took eight [years]. We just have to get better.”
In 2021, behind then-freshman quarterback Saunders, McDevitt cruised through the regular season into the PIAA Class 4A Championship game against Aliquippa.
Despite a fast start and two touchdown lead in the first three minutes of the PIAA 4A Championship, McDevitt ultimately fell to Aliquippa 34-27. The final three minutes of the game left a sour taste in the Crusaders’ mouths, failing to get the ball back for a chance to tie.
The 2021 loss dropped Weachter’s record in state championship games to 0-4.
“It hurts now,” Weachter said after the 2021 loss. “But we bring most of our team back, and hopefully we’ll be here next year.”
The loss was all the motivation the Crusaders needed to propel them back to the state title game in a rematch against Aliquippa.
The Stone Saunders to Tyshawn Russell connection helped hand Weachter his first win.
Saunders found Russell for four touchdowns on the night, throwing five total, as McDevitt beat Aliquippa 41-18 to capture their second state title and their first since 1995.
“After our last offensive drive, I started crying,” Saunders said. “It really sunk in. We worked so hard for this, and our whole team has worked so hard for this, coaches have worked so hard for this.”
“We wanted it so bad and it just feels so good to get here and I couldn’t be happier,” Saunders said. “We are going to remember this forever. It’s the greatest moment of my life.”
McDevitt finished the 2022 season with a 13-1 record, as the PIAA 4A State Champions.