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PIAA driving toward 6 classes for football

Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009 by Ed Dalton

PIAA driving toward 6 classes for football

By Mike Kovak, Staff writer

mkovak@observer-reporter.com

With one hurdle to clear in establishing six classifications for PIAA football, the WPIAL is considering several options in an effort to maintain its current system of play.

Last month, the PIAA Board of Control voted, 17-12, on a second reading vote to move from four classifications to six for football only starting in 2010. The motion must pass a third and final reading by a two-thirds majority at the May meeting, which takes place in Chambersburg before the start of the PIAA Track and Field championships.

The motion, supported by PIAA executive director Brad Cashman, needs 21 votes to pass. Among the "no" votes were Burgettstown athletic director Jon Vallina and Mapletown athletic director Linda Messich, both members of the Board of Control. Their votes aren't likely to change but, at the March meeting, one Boad of Control member was absent and another abstained from voting.

"I think it's going to happen," said Ed Dalton, Trinity's athletic director and football coach. "I think they'll get the votes. They don't need that many."

The WPIAL is opposed to the idea for several reasons, none more important than the ability to play its four championship games at Heinz Field.

"That's the big thing. That's something for the kids to look forward to," McGuffey coach Derek Bochna said. "We don't want it. We have something special."

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley will be at Elizabeth Forward High School at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of the switch. Another session will be held Thursday at North Allegheny. Both are open to high school principals, athletic directors and football coaches.

Among the possibilities for the WPIAL is withdrawing from the PIAA football playoffs or shortening the regular season to maintain the current playoff system.

"There was more of that succeeding-from-the-union talk the first time this came up five or six years ago," Dalton said. "The WPIAL, in many ways, is the model for the rest of the state and, obviously, there's some envy. We do what we want to do and do it in a first-class way."

Under the current system, the PIAA fields 150 teams in Class A (enrollment from 1-195), 155 in Class AA (196-327), 145 in Class AAA (328-539) and 148 in Class AAAA (540 and up).

With six classifications, there would be approximately 100 teams per class and the season would be shortened from 16 weeks to 15.

In the WPIAL, the breakdown would be 11 teams in 6A, 22 in 5A, 21 in Quad-A, 20 in Triple-A, 27 in AA and 22 in A.

Locally, no schools would play in the largest classification. Canon-McMillan, Peters Township, Ringgold and possibly Trinity would play in 5A - Dalton believes the Hillers would be in Class AAAA. McGuffey would move to Class AAA, while Fort Cherry and Burgettstown would jump to Class AA.

"The state playoffs has been a growth process and it finally seems that they just got it right," Bochna said. "For years, winning the WPIAL was always the biggest thing. Now, everyone wants to win a state title. The luster is there now.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if anyone does, but everyone (in the WPIAL) would rather have it like it is."

Hoop to Hillsdale

Fort Cherry senior Kaitlyn Hoop, the starting pitcher and one of the top hitters on the Rangers' softball team, signed a letter of intent to play softball at Division II Hillsdale College on an athletic scholarship.

Behind Hoop's pitching, Fort Cherry is off to a 4-1 start with a 1-1 record in Section 1-A, arguably the toughest WPIAL conference in the classification. The Rangers' lone loss was a one-run game at Serra Catholic.

Last year, Hoop helped Fort Cherry to a 14-4 record, the section title and a victory in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Hillsdale College, located in Hillsdale, Mich., competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). The Chargers are 10-17 overall heading into the weekend.

Calvert resigns

Michael Calvert recently resigned as McGuffey girls basketball coach following two successful seasons.

Calvert compiled a 21-27 record with the Highlanders but they qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs both years.

In 2007-08, McGuffey snapped a 19-year playoff drought despite finishing with a 9-15 record. This year, the Highlanders went 12-12 and picked up a rare postseason victory, 39-37 over Kittanning in a preliminary round game.

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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