Chartiers Valley football expects challenging schedule after realignment

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Saturday, January 22, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Now that the WPIAL has the conference alignments for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, teams can start preparing for familiar faces and new foes in the fall.

That will be the case for Chartiers Valley. The Colts will return to the Class 4A Parkway Conference with familiar opponents from the past two years: Blackhawk, Montour and New Castle.

The conference will welcome three new teams: Ambridge, West Allegheny and two-time defending district and state 3A champion Central Valley, which is moving up to 4A starting this fall.

“The Parkway is always going to be a super competitive league,” Chartiers Valley coach Dan Knause said. “All the schools are well-coached and have good talent. Ambridge is a program on the rise. We saw them on film last year and were impressed. We, obviously, know and respect Central Valley. They have built a powerhouse program. We also respect West A and are glad to get another highly competitive opponent close to home.”

If Aliquippa wins its appeal with the PIAA and gets to stay in 4A, last year’s WPIAL and PIAA champions will return to the Parkway Conference.

The Colts know, for now, that three teams will be on their schedule again for the next two years.

“Playing New Castle, Montour and Blackhawk are games we look forward to based on the competitive nature of the last couple of years,” Knause said. “We embrace the quality of our league and look forward to playing in the Parkway Conference.”

This past season, Chartiers Valley took a little step back after a breakout 2020 campaign.

The Colts missed the playoffs in the tough Parkway Conference, finishing in fifth place with only one conference win and a 4-6 overall record.

The previous season, Chartiers Valley finished in second place in the conference, qualified for the playoffs and finished with a 6-2 overall record.

“Our season was a disappointment because it is our expectation to be a winning team and make the playoffs,” Knause said. “We were still very proud of our players and the daily efforts they put into our program, but we wouldn’t be honest if we didn’t say a 4-6 record with no playoffs was a disappointment.”

However, it was a very thin line between second place and sixth place in the Parkway Conference. Aliquippa was the runaway conference champion, but every other head-to-head conference game was close.

The Colts lost one conference game by 15 points and three others by seven points each.

“We lost (quarterback) Anthony Mackey early in the Beaver game,” Knause said. “He was such a special player for us in all three phases of the game. We had to adapt and overcome injuries. Our last three losses came down to the final play or possession of the game. Ultimately, we couldn’t get over the hump and needed to find ways to win those games.

“We enjoy the competitive schedule and expected to win every time we took the field. Close games are why we coach and play the game. It was an exciting season filled with close games, but excitement becomes a disappointment when you end up on the wrong side. The losses hurt because our staff and players work very hard.”

With a playoff berth on the line in the final game of the regular season, Chartiers Valley lost at home to Montour, 34-27.

“The Montour loss was heartbreaking,” Knause said. “We lost Gavin Owens and a key lineman, Mason Copeland, to injury. Gavin was doing an excellent job at quarterback and safety for us. It was a great high school game that, unfortunately, did not go our way.

“As the head coach, I believe we are in a program where we will never point the finger at our players. As a head coach, it is my job to give our players in the best chance to succeed, so that is where the evaluation process starts. We will examine those close losses as a staff and team and grow from our experience.”

With the new conference alignment out, the schedule will soon follow. Already, Knause and his staff are getting excited about this fall.

“We are optimistic for the 2022 season because we return seven to eight starters on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Overall, we liked the competitive level of our players and believe our players will turn our disappointing finish into motivation. In life, you have to be willing to learn and grow or you stop progressing. I truly feel the character of the young men we have in our program can help lead us to a successful 2022 season. Our actions, not our words will dictate where we go in 2022.”

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