Alle-Kiski Valley high school notebook: Allegheny Conference gets makeover

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | 11:08 PM

The Allegheny Conference needs a new name.

After being the home to a high number of Alle-Kiski Valley football teams in recent seasons, the league got a new look this week when the WPIAL released conference alignments for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years.

Locally, Apollo-Ridge and Valley no longer will play in Class 3A. Valley dropped to 2A based on its enrollment numbers; Apollo-Ridge, which “played up” in Class 3A the past two seasons, decided to remain in 2A with similarly sized schools.

The overall attrition caused 3A to condense from three conferences to two, placing Burrell, Deer Lakes and Freeport into a conference with Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Derry, Elizabeth Forward, Mt. Pleasant, Uniontown and Yough.

“I don't know if you can call it the Allegheny Conference anymore,” Burrell coach Dave Bellinotti said with a laugh. “It's stretched out. (But) I think it shook out as good as it could. … To the best of their ability, it looks like they used common sense with most of it. It's a little more spread out now than it's been in recent years, but it was going to be spread out any way you looked at it.”

A-K Valley coaches expressed general optimism about the new-look conferences, which came after the PIAA released updated enrollment figures for each classification late last year.

Apollo-Ridge and Valley will compete in one of Class 2A's three conferences, along with Avonworth, East Allegheny, Shady Side Academy, Steel Valley and Summit Academy.

“This is nice,” Valley coach Muzzy Colosimo said. “With the way it is, there's some really good teams in here. It's going to be a pretty balanced conference.”

Apollo-Ridge suffered several injuries toward the end of the 2017 season that left it short-handed against the bigger schools in the Allegheny.

“It was kind of a no-brainer for us to go down,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “Those two years figuring where you're going to be and what you've got to play against, that made our decision easier.”

The other big local change came in 5A, where Fox Chapel and Kiski Area shifted conferences will play Armstrong, Hampton, Mars, North Hills, Penn Hills and Shaler.

Other changes

The other significantly different landscape outlined in the new alignments the WPIAL released Monday is in boys and girls soccer, where the new enrollment numbers caused a significant number of teams to drop or rise in classification.

Apollo-Ridge and Springdale made opposite decisions in girls soccer. Springdale, which played up in Class 2A the past two seasons, opted to remain in Class A. Apollo-Ridge decided to move up to 2A. The schools basically replaced each other in their new sections: Apollo-Ridge now will play Burrell, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Freeport, Highlands and Valley, and Springdale will compete against Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Riverview, Serra, Shady Side Academy and St. Joseph.

Kiski Area and Plum dropped from Class 4A to 3A. The Cavaliers' new section includes Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Hampton, Indiana, Knoch and Mars. The Mustangs' includes Oakland Catholic, Obama Academy, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, West Mifflin and Woodland Hills.

In boys soccer, Kiski Area dropped to Class 3A into a section with Armstrong, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Knoch, Mars and North Hills. Fox Chapel shifted into a section with Allderdice, Butler, Central Catholic, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler.

Other alignments released Monday included cross country, field hockey, golf, track and field, tennis and volleyball.

Freeport fundraiser

The Freeport boys and girls basketball teams and their booster organizations, in conjunction with many others in the Freeport community came together Tuesday night to honor the memory of freshman Kadyn Jack, who died unexpectedly Dec. 13.

Many have rallied in the month since Kadyn's death, and her memory has been kept alive through those who have donated to causes close to her heart, such as Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley and Flying Changes Equine Rescue.

“I knew we had a strong community here in Freeport, but I never expected this level of support,” said Kristen Jack, Kadyn's mother. “It's hard when people take care of me because I want to take care of everybody else. I am overwhelmed, grateful and appreciative of everyone. It's just been wonderful.”

A memorial fund is being set up in Kadyn's memory, and proceeds from a number of activities Tuesday evening went toward that cause.

A 50/50 raffle at both games, a foul-shooting contest during halftime and the sale of bracelets and T-shirts by the Freeport soccer boosters were some of the ways event organizers raised money during the evening.

Those wishing to donate to the memorial fund can do so by mailing to J.J. and Kristi Jack, c/o Jacks Ford, 700 Ekastown Road, Sarvar, PA, 16055.

Michael Love contributed. Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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