Don Rebel: How about a compromise between WPIAL’s football realignment plans?
Thursday, January 9, 2020 | 6:56 PM
The WPIAL held a “town meeting” on Wednesday and unveiled two plans to district football coaches and administrators to determine the conference landscape for the upcoming 2020 and 2021 seasons.
What WPIAL officials presented was a tweak to the status quo on one hand, and a drastic change with teams from multiple classes playing in more geographical friendly conferences on the other.
There have been plenty of complaints since expansion to six classes four years ago, but I’m not sure those grievances are ready for a complete and total shake-up.
Part of the playoff qualifications in a multi-class conference calls for teams to be awarded more points for beating a team from a higher class.
That is one flaw that jumps out to me right away. Not every team from a higher classification is a good team.
If School A from Conference 1 is a 3A team, it is given more points for a win over a 4A school. Well, what if the two 4A schools in Conference 1 are not that good? School A benefits.
Maybe some 3A schools are in a different conference playing strong schools from 4A. They do not reap the same benefits.
That being said, I’m not sure what ails district football calls for a total renovation with drastic change.
I love that the status quo plan does address a couple of significant issues.
First, nonconference games will be scheduled more on a competitive scale then by luck of the draw.
Having Clairton play OLSH, Washington square off with Burgettstown and North Catholic take on Aliquippa is much better than Clairton vs. Avella, Washington against Fort Cherry and North Catholic scheduled against Waynesburg Central.
Secondly, I and just about every district football coach will love the nonconference games being played prior to the start of the conference schedule.
Coaches hate playing conference games in Week 1 and nonconference games in Week 8.
This idea is sort of a throwback to the days of yesteryear.
I remember the days when Week 3 of the high school football season was always one of the highlights because it marked the kickoff of conference play.
The one exception would be conferences with an odd number of teams. That appears to be the case in one 4A and one 3A conference that would have a crossover nonconference game each week of the regular season.
Of the two plans presented Wednesday night, it appears the status quo plan may and should get the nod.
But why not use a mix of the two plans?
The big problem in WPIAL football is the ever-sinking ship that is Class 6A.
There is a definite divide between the haves and have nots. Only a handful of games are meaningful in the regular season and the playoff games are all rematches.
Class 6A has become boring and broken.
Why not use the combined class idea for 6A and 5A only? The other four classifications can remain as is.
Since expansion in 2016, Class 5A has thrived. It has been the most exciting classification in the regular season, the postseason and especially in the championship games.
Why not bring the two classes together? It won’t hurt 5A and can greatly help 6A.
I know, I know, none of the 5A schools wants to play Central Catholic and North Allegheny. Well, Pine-Richland used to be on that list, and now they are part of Class 5A.
If the district goes with the second plan setup for 6A and 5A only, this would be the breakdown based on info released Wednesday. Several 4A schools that were part of the sections have been removed.
Fox Chapel (5A), North Allegheny (6A), North Hills (5A), Pine-Richland (5A), Seneca Valley (6A), Shaler (5A)
Bethel Park (5A), Canon-McMillan (6A), Moon (5A), Mt. Lebanon (6A), Peters Township (5A), South Fayette (5A), Upper St. Clair (5A), West Allegheny (5A)
Baldwin (6A), Central Catholic (6A), Franklin Regional (5A), Gateway (5A), Hempfield (6A), Kiski Area (5A), Norwin (6A), Penn Hills (5A), Penn-Trafford (5A), Woodland Hills (5A)
Kiski Area and Central Catholic could be moved to Section 1 to make three eight-team conferences.
Any of the 5A teams in Section 1 wouldn’t be hurt by losses to North Allegheny or Central Catholic and actually would get a big boost if they pulled off an upset of one of those two 6A powers.
The biggest class in the WPIAL needs help. The status quo will only continue to hurt it. A full blowup of the system for all classes is not needed when the other classes are fine as is.
How about the possible answer being a marriage between the two plans for 6A and 5A for a two-year test drive? Perhaps that is what’s needed to put a spark back in the district’s highest classification.
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