A-K Valley football teams happy with WPIAL realignment

Saturday, January 25, 2020 | 9:47 PM

The WPIAL has released its newest football alignments for the next two years.

Before releasing the updated alignments, which will affect a few teams throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley, the WPIAL presented football coaches and athletic directors throughout the district with two options.

One option was presented as a regionalization approach, where teams would play in a section with multiple teams from different conferences. The second option was more “status quo,” and all teams in a section would be from the same conference.

The WPIAL chose the latter, and that decision was accepted gladly by many coaches for several reasons.

For one, nonconference games now will be played at the beginning of the season. Kiski Area coach Sam Albert is extremely happy about that after playing two nonconference games late last season.

“It was ridiculous when we played Woodland Hills and McKeesport in weeks seven and eight last year,” Albert said. “So, at least now you get your exhibition games early and you still get to evaluate what you want to do as a team before you get into section play.”

In the A-K Valley, but Kiski Area and Fox Chapel might have been affected most because of Pine-Richland joining Section 3-5A.

“They are probably, if not the strongest, one of the strongest teams in 5A,” Albert said. “That is what it is, but there is no easy section in 5A when you look at the other ones. So, we were pretty happy when we found out we got the teams we are familiar with, except for Pine.”

Against Class 6A competition last season, the Rams went 10-2 and made a run to the WPIAL championship at Heinz Field before losing to Central Catholic, 10-7. They put up 37.9 points per game.

Section 3-5A now includes Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, North Hills, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland and Shaler Area.

A few new teams also joined Knoch and Highlands in Section 2-4A. Knoch coach Brandon Mowry was a fan of the realignment.

“I’m excited, and the guys are excited because it looks like the old Allegheny Conference,” Mowry said. “It’s all teams right here in the area, and we don’t really have to get on the turnpike and go to Beaver County any more.”

Last year, Knoch was in a section with Highlands, South Fayette, Blackhawk, New Castle, Montour, Beaver Area and Ambridge, which required a lot of travel.

Their Section 2-4A now includes Armstrong, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Mars and Plum.

Most are local matchups that bring back a few rivalries, like a matchup with the Fightin’ Planets.

“They are right down the road, and there’s a good healthy relationship there,” Mowry said. “There is a little bit of banter between the student sections, and it’s definitely a fun atmosphere.”

Resuming local rivalries is a benefit for other A-K Valley teams as well, especially in Section 2-3A. Burrell will be joined by Deer Lakes, Derry, East Allegheny, Freeport, North Catholic and Valley. The return of the Vikings reestablishes the “Battle of the Bypass” between Burrell and Valley as a section matchup.

“It’s awesome to have that,” Burrell coach Shawn Liotta said. “To me it was a rivalry game before, and I know they are going to be hungry to get some revenge because we beat them down on their field and that will be a tough game.”

Here are the section alignments involving A-K Valley teams:

Section 2-5A: Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, North Hills, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland and Shaler Area.

Section 2-4A: Armstrong, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Mars and Plum

Section 2-3A: Burrell, Deer Lakes, Derry, East Allegheny, Freeport, North Catholic, and Valley.

Section 1-2A: Apollo-Ridge, Ligonier Valley, Serra Catholic, Shady Side Academy, Steel Valley, and Summit Academy.

Section 1-1A: Bishop Canevin, Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Imani Christian, Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview and Springdale.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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