George Guido: Plenty of intrigue surrounding WPIAL football scheduling

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Tuesday, January 7, 2020 | 9:01 PM


As Rod Stewart once sang, “Tonight’s the Night.”

But on an entirely different topic than Rod’s, tonight’s the night the WPIAL will hold a football meeting with coaches, athletic directors and principals regarding how the sport should be set up for the next two seasons.

The meeting is slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the North Hills Middle School auditorium.

The immediate problem is dealing with football scheduling in the six-classification era. Extensive travel and near-empty stadiums are a result of WPIAL schools choosing to play conference games strictly in their own enrollment class.

The WPIAL recently sent out a survey to member schools requesting feedback on various approaches.

One is a type of regionalization. Schools could play “up” or “down” from an assigned PIAA classification in order to play more traditional, geographic rivals.

Every school has to travel to some extent. Gone are the days such as in 1959, when Springdale’s farthest away game was Ford City. By 1986, Springdale’s closest away game was Ford City.

One thing a majority of schools are apparently interested in are nonconference games with as many local rivals as possible, even if hand-scheduling is necessitated.

Up to now, the WPIAL tossed all the schools in a computer program and went from there. The result was a situation like Oct. 18, when Freedom traveled 57 miles to Apollo-Ridge and Burrell went 77 miles to Waynesburg, instead of 11 miles to A-R’s Owens Field.

But that same night, Blackhawk and Beaver Falls — five miles apart — played, so it can be done.

The WPIAL is expected to unveil a number of scenarios to the schools, and the board of directors might vote on the most palatable scenario at its meeting Jan. 20.

Once that takes place, schedules should be developed some time in February, perhaps by the Feb. 17 board meeting.

Butler bolts WPIAL

After 115 years — 105 as a WPIAL school — Butler is leaving WPIAL football to play an independent schedule. That further complicates the WPIAL scheduling problems because Class 6A is down to eight schools.

Despite being the WPIAL’s third-largest school, Butler has struggled mightily for more than two decades.

The Golden Tornado have failed to have a winning season since 1997 and last made the playoffs in 2012 when Freeport native Clyde Conti coached the team.

The most recent Golden Tornado playoff win was in 1992, a 12-7 victory over Penn Hills.

Butler’s all-time record in football is 517-455-46, but the school has a 20-game losing streak. The school has been to the WPIAL playoffs 16 times and sports a record there of 12-15-1, with the one tie being the 1977 championship game with Penn Hills.

Besides sharing that title, Butler won the WPIAL outright in 1950.

In a move toward stability, the school district has retained coach Eric Christy and his staff. He is the seventh Butler coach in 21 seasons.

Butler anticipates playing a number of District 10 schools but won’t be abandoning the WPIAL altogether.

The Golden Tornado already have a Week Zero game scheduled against Kiski Area.

Springdale ‘Vets’ wall

The Allegheny Valley School District will soon start addressing some slight movement of the wall at Veterans Memorial Field.

No one is saying the wall is in danger of collapsing or the Dynamos’ 2020 home season is in jeopardy, but the wall needs stabilized.

The field was built in 1938 under the Works Progress Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The fact it has taken 80 years for the wall to move is a testament to the workmanship of those who built the facility.

Springdale started playing its home games at Veterans Memorial Field in 1939. It obviously was named after World War I veterans. The first touchdown at “The Vets” was scored by Har-Brack’s Eddie Klemczak on Sept. 16, 1939, en route to a 32-0 Har-Brack victory.

The second Springdale game was a 0-0 tie against Freeport. What’s weird about that game was the Valley Daily News “Birdie” predicted a 0-0 tie two days before the game.

The WPA was a program during the Great Depression where various public works projects were funded by the federal government to create jobs. The men who worked on these various projects didn’t know where their next employment gig was coming, so the projects were built with careful pride.

Other examples of local WPA projects are Tarentum’s Dreshar Stadium and Ford City’s recently demolished Red Mihalik Gym.

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