Connellsville school board decides to opt out of WPIAL football schedule, play as an independent

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 10:47 PM


Another Fayette County school district has decided not to accept a football schedule from the WPIAL.

Connellsville Area School District’s board voted 9-0 to withdraw from the WPIAL in football for the next two seasons.

Connellsville joins Albert Gallatin, Uniontown and Brownsville in playing an independent schedule. Butler has also gone independent, playing schools from District 10.

Connellsville played in Class 4A the past two seasons. Last year, the Falcons were 5-5 for the first time since 2012.

The program has struggled over the years playing in Class 5A and with the new PIAA numbers, the Falcons will return to that larger class.

“It wasn’t too long ago that we had some 0-10 seasons in Class 5A,” Connellsville tri-head coach Chad Lembo said. “What is in the best interest for the WPIAL isn’t necessarily in the best interest for Connellsville at this time.

“When we took over, we were working with a roster in the low 30s. This past season, we were able to get the numbers back up to the high 60s and low 70s. We did a good job recruiting players to come out and some had no football background. We’re still teaching skills.”

Lembo said there needs to be a culture change. He said he and fellow coaches Mick Lilley and Jace McLean are working to build the culture.

“I think the future looks good,” Lembo said. “We’re not opposed to returning to the WPIAL. We just need to continue to move forward.”

Lembo said the Falcons have been working on a 10-game schedule. He said they’ve already scheduled games with Butler, Albert Gallatin and Uniontown.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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