Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PIAA Classifications Announced

Today the PIAA published a series of documents listing the classifications for every school in every sport across the state. It takes a bit to comb through the documents, but I made it through the football pdf and discovered that 11 schools will be changing classifications next season in the WPIAL.

As a brief reminder of the process: schools are realigned by the PIAA every two years, which then trickles down into a realignment of the WPIAL conferences. Since Football is a boys sport, the classifications are based on the enrollment numbers of 9th-11th grade boys in each participating school. Schools had to submit their enrollment figures earlier this year, which the PIAA will make public in the coming weeks.

The new enrollment cutoffs for football, which will impact the 2014 and 2015 Classifications are:

Class A: 1-174
Class AA: 175-299
Class AAA: 300-492
Class AAAA: 493 and up

Schools are not permitted to "play down" in a lower classification, but school districts are permitted by majority decision to vote to "play up" in a higher classification. The only school that has chosen to "play up" in the upcoming cycle (2014 & 2015) is Aliquippa, playing up in AA though their enrollment would put them in Class A.

Class A

The Departed: Apollo-Ridge, Carlynton, Laurel, Sto-Rox, West Shamokin

New Arrivals: Riverside, Jeanette, Greensburg Central Catholic, Vincentian

Jeanette and GCC had been playing up for the last few years and will be playing to their enrollment figures now. Vincentian has been playing a WPIAL schedule for the last two years but was not officially part of a conference. Now that their "trial run" is over, they should be added to a conference in 2014. If all of the listed schools are placed into conferences for 2014, there will be 35 Class A teams, which will mean 3 conferences of 9 teams and 1 conference of 8. The wild card here is Geibel Catholic, which was listed on the PIAA list but had to forfeit two games last season and one in 2013 due to a lack of players. If Geibel doesn't play varsity football, then there will be two conferences of 9 and two conferences of 8. 

Projected Conference Alignment:
Big Seven: Neshannock, OLSH, Riverside, Rochester, Shenango, South Side Beaver, Union, Western Beaver
Black Hills: Brentwood, California, Clairton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, GCC, Jeanette, Monessen, Serra 
Eastern: Avonworth, Bishop Canevin, Leechburg, North Catholic, Northgate, Riverview, Springdale, Vincentian, Wilkinsburg
Tri-County South: Avella, Bentworth, Beth-Center, Carmichaels, Frazier, [Geibel], Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, West Greene

Notes: California wants to get back to the Tri-County South, but unless the WPIAL moves one of the teams from the TCS to the Black Hills, I have a hard time seeing that happening. If they do, Avella and Bentworth would be the likely candidates as the have played in the Black Hills in the past. When aligning the other conferences, swapping Laurel and Riverside was an easy move, along with adding GCC and Jeanette to the Black Hills which was their only logical geographic fit. The WPIAL could put GCC and Jeanette in the Eastern Conference to replace Apollo-Ridge and West Shamokin, but that would be an excessive amount of traveling for a lot of the Eastern Conference schools. When it came down to it, I was left with Bishop Canevin and Vincentian without a home and I had open spots in both the Big Seven and the Eastern Conference. I decided on Vincentian in the Eastern based on their geographic proximity to Avonworth, Northgate and North Catholic. Since Bishop Canevin was in the Eastern Conference in the 2010-11 cycle, I put them back in the Eastern Conference as well, though they could have gone to the Big Seven.

Class AA

The Departed: Riverside, Jeanette, Greensburg Central Catholic, Yough

New Arrivals: Apollo-Ridge, Carlynton, Derry, Highlands, Laurel, Sto-Rox, West Shamokin

AA is adding 7 teams and losing 4, which will create some very interesting realignment scenarios for the WPIAL to work out. Their most difficult hurdle will be in the Allegheny Conference where three new arrivals (Apollo-Ridge, Highlands and West Shamokin would all fit geographically. AA will go from having 35 teams to having 38 teams. The WPIAL will likely stick with 4 conferences (two of 10 and two of 9) rather than stretching AA out into 5 conferences (two of 7 and three of 8).

Projected Conference Alignment:
Allegheny Conference: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Highlands, Kittanning, Summit Academy, Valley, West Shamokin
Century Conference: Burgettstown, Carlynton, Keystone Oaks, Quaker Valley, Seton-La Salle, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, South Fayette, South Park, Steel Valley, 
Interstate Conference: Brownsville, Charleroi, Derry, East Allegheny, McGuffey, Mt Pleasant, Southmoreland, Washington, Waynesburg
Midwestern Conference: Aliquippa, Beaver, Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Freedom, Laurel, Mohawk, New Brighton, Sto-Rox

Notes: As I did in Class A, swapping Laurel and Riverside was an easy move. I added Sto-Rox to the Midwestern Conference to bring it up to 9 teams. East Allegheny, after a brief time in the Allegheny Conference was sent back to the Interstate Conference (replacing the departed GCC). Derry and Yough were a direct switch as well. Shady Side Academy got the short end of the stick by being the furthest south of the Allegheny Conference teams. The only logical fit for SSA was the Century Conference, which then bumped McGuffey to the Interstate Conference, which isn't a terrible place for them since Washington and Waynesburg are also there. The Midwestern Conference is potentially brutal with the addition of Laurel and Sto-Rox. Carlynton, given their proximity to KO, Seton and South Fayette was placed in the Century Conference, though they could have also landed in the Midwestern.

Class AAA

The Departed: Derry, Highlands

New Arrivals: Gateway, Yough

Things are status quo in AAA. It's hard to see any major changes coming as the number of teams will remain the same (27). Gateway and Yough will likely replace Highlands and Derry in the Greater Allegheny Conference, which is a geographic fit for both schools. 

Projected Conference Alignment:
Big Nine: Albert Gallatin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Uniontown, West Mifflin
Greater Allegheny: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Hollidaysburg, Indiana, Knoch, Mars, Yough
Parkway: Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Chartiers Valley, Hopewell, Montour, Moon, New Castle, West Allegheny

Notes: The Parkway Conference is essentially secure. Some shuffling could occur between the Big Nine and the Greater Allegheny, but that doesn't seem likely.

Class AAAA

The Departed: Gateway

The only question here is whether or not Gateway's spot in the Foothills Conference will be filled by one of the teams from the Southeastern Conference (Plum, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills would be the candidates). There will still be three Quad-A Conferences with two conferences having 8 teams and one having 9. My bet would be that the WPIAL leaves Quad-A alone and doesn't move anyone to replace Gateway.

Projected Conference Alignment:
Foothills: Altoona, Connellsville, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Latrobe, McKeesport, Norwin, Penn-Trafford
Northern Eight: Butler, Central Catholic, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler
Southeastern: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills, Peters Twp, Plum, Upper St Clair, Woodland Hills

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