Countdown to kickoff: WPIAL set for Year 2 of current football playoff format

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Sunday, August 20, 2023 | 10:17 PM


This is the second year of the current two-year cycle for scheduling, conference alignment and playoff formats in all high school sports in the WPIAL and PIAA.

When it comes to district football, there will be once again four playoff teams that qualify for the playoffs in Class 6A, eight in 5A, 13 in 4A, 12 in 3A, 14 in 2A and 16 in A.

Here is a rundown of the format and the class-by-class breakdown for all six classifications.

Format

The top four teams in each conference with seven or fewer teams will qualify for the WPIAL playoffs. This would include 13 of the 17 district conferences with all of 6A, 5A and 3A as well as the Greater Allegheny and Big 7 Conference in 4A and the Century Conference in 2A.

The 4A Parkway Conference, 3A Western Hills Conference, 2A Allegheny and 2A Midwestern Athletic Conference all have eight teams. In those conferences, the top five teams will qualify for the playoffs.

The lone exception to this format is in Class A, where there are two eight-team and two seven-team conferences, but the district is only taking the top four teams in all four conferences, making for a full four-week, 16-team bracket.

Class breakdown

CLASS 6A

There are only five teams in the entire class, and four of them will participate in the district playoffs. There will be two rounds with the four playoff teams earning byes into the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 10 at the site of the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. The championship game is set for Norwin on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The 6A championship game will be played at a high school venue for a fourth straight year since the WPIAL champion will begin the PIAA playoffs in the quarterfinals round on the weekend of Nov. 24-25, the same weekend the WPIAL will be holding four other football title games at Acrisure Stadium.

CLASS 5A

There are three conferences (Allegheny Six, Big East, Northeast) with seven teams in each conference. The top two teams qualify along with two third-place wild-card teams. There will be three rounds starting with the quarterfinals (home game for top four seeds), then the semifinals at neutral sites, followed by the championship game set for Norwin on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The 5A championship game will be played at a high school venue for the fifth time in six years since the WPIAL champion will begin the PIAA playoffs in the quarterfinals round on the weekend of Nov. 24-25, the same weekend the WPIAL will be holding four other football title games at Acrisure Stadium.

CLASS 4A

Thirteen teams will qualify for the district playoffs in 4A, including the top five teams from the Parkway Conference and the top four teams from both the Greater Allegheny and the Big 7 Conferences for a four-week playoff bracket.

The top three seeds as determined by the district football steering committee will receive first-round byes and host quarterfinals. The higher seeds in the five first-round games will host those contests. One quarterfinal not involving a team with a bye and the semifinals will be at neutral sites.

The championship game will be played at Acrisure Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24. The district champion will join the PIAA playoffs the following weekend in the state semifinals round.

CLASS 3A

Twelve teams will qualify for the district playoffs in 3A, including the top four teams from the Western Hills, Allegheny 6 and Interstate Conferences for a four-week playoff bracket.

The top four seeds as determined by the district football steering committee will receive first-round byes and host quarterfinals. The higher seeds in the four first-round games will host those contests. The semifinals will be at neutral sites.

The championship game will be played at Acrisure Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24. The district champion will join the PIAA playoffs the following weekend in the state semifinals round.

CLASS 2A

Fourteen teams will qualify for the district playoffs in 2A, including the top five teams from the both the Allegheny and Midwestern Athletic Conferences and the top four teams from the Century Conference for a four-week playoff bracket.

The top two seeds as determined by the district football steering committee will receive first-round byes and host quarterfinals. The higher seeds in the six first-round games will host those contests. The two quarterfinals games not involving a team with a first round bye and the semifinals will be at neutral sites.

The championship game will be played at Acrisure Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24. The district champion will join the PIAA playoffs the following weekend in the state semifinals round.

CLASS A

Pretty simple for the classification with the most teams in the district.

Sixteen teams will qualify for the district playoffs in A, including the top four teams from the Eastern, Tri-County South, Black Hills and Big 7 Conferences for a four-week playoff bracket.

The top eight seeded teams as determined by the district football steering committee will host first-round games. The quarterfinals and the semifinals will be at neutral sites.

The championship game will be played at Acrisure Stadium on Friday, Nov. 24. The district champion will join the PIAA playoffs the following weekend in the state semifinals round.

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