Plum, Riverview fall sports teams look forward to new, current rivalries

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Sunday, January 23, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Whether they’re joined in the same conference or separated in the same or a different classification, the Plum and Franklin Regional football teams usually find themselves on the same field each season.

This fall, the Mustangs and Panthers will be together again in one of three Class 5A conferences as Plum makes the move back to the second-largest classification after two years in Class 4A. Also in the conference will be Hempfield, Norwin, Gateway and Penn-Trafford.

It was one of several moves for teams at Plum and Riverview as the WPIAL recently completed its fall sports re-alignment for 2022-23 and 2023-24.

“It is pretty close to what it was my second year when we played the likes of Norwin, Hempfield and Penn-Trafford, Gateway,” said Plum football coach Matt Morgan, who took over the Mustangs in 2013.

“There is familiarity there. I think it is exciting for me, the coaches and the players. There are new challenges to look forward to. I know we had our struggles early last season, but we started to find our groove. Hopefully, that carries over into this year. It definitely will be interesting to see how it will play out.”

Plum went a combined 11-9 overall and 10-4 in the Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference the past two seasons and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs both years.

Riverview football hopes to make improvements on a 1-8 overall record and a 1-6 mark in the Eastern Conference, and Frazier will be one of the teams it hopes to find success against.

Frazier, 0-9 last year in Class 2A, joins the conference with the Raiders, fellow mainstays Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Leechburg and Springdale. Bishop Canevin and Imani Christian moved out.

Imani bumps up to Class 2A as it forms a co-op with Propel Braddock Hills.

The biggest changes for Plum and Riverview, as well as many other schools in the WPIAL, came in boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball.

Plum girls soccer, with several top players back from trips to the 2021 WPIAL finals and state semifinals, will find itself in a drastically new conference. Only Penn Hills remains.

Gone are recent conference rivals Oakland Catholic and Thomas Jefferson. New foes for the second cycle include 2021 Section 3-4A champion Latrobe and Section 1-3A champion Franklin Regional, as well as Penn-Trafford, Gateway and Greensburg Salem.

“When we saw Moon, Penn-Trafford and Latrobe coming down to 3A, we knew there were going to be some alignment changes,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said.

“Geographically, it makes a ton of sense. The section certainly will be challenging. There won’t be many easy games. But I am sure the girls will be excited to prepare for and play all of those teams.”

Plum boys soccer again will do battle with Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills and Obama Academy in Section 4-3A while also facing section newcomers Penn-Trafford, Latrobe and McKeesport.

The Mustangs and Panthers will seek defense of their section co-championships in 2022. The teams split their season series, each finishing 13-1.

Penn-Trafford qualified for the WPIAL playoffs out of Section 3.

Plum girls volleyball finished in a three-way tie for the 2021 Section 1-3A title with Franklin Regional and Indiana.

The Panthers and Indians, as well as playoff qualifier Kiski Area and Greensburg Salem, all moved out.

In their places are Gateway, Hampton and West Mifflin. The Talbots enjoyed a stellar 2021 season when they reached the WPIAL Class 3A finals and finished as the PIAA runner-up.

The Riverview boys and girls soccer teams returned to the pitch in 2021, and the young squads got back up to speed in their respective conferences.

The Raiders boys, 0-12 in Section 3-1A, hope to improve against a slate that includes Aquinas Academy, Burrell, St. Joseph, Springdale, Trinity Christian and Winchester Thurston.

Burrell, St. Joseph and Trinity Christian are new to the section.

The Bucs, playoff qualifiers last fall in Section 2-2A, drop down to Class A and are expected to present a formidable challenge to the rest of their new opponents.

The Riverview girls, paced by 43-goal scorer in sophomore Lola Abraham, hope to improve on 2021’s 4-8 mark in Section 1-1A.

They will get the chance against section mainstays Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Serra Catholic and Springdale, as well as Section 2 champion Steel Valley and playoff qualifier Seton LaSalle.

Steel Valley topped Riverview (first round), Springdale (semifinals) and GCC (finals) to capture the 2021 WPIAL Class A title. The Ironmen fell to the Centurions in the PIAA semifinals.

Apollo-Ridge moved out of the section and up to Class 2A.

Riverview girls volleyball again will match up with Greensburg Central Catholic, Leechburg, St. Joseph, Springdale and Trinity Christian and welcomes 2021 Section 2-2A champion Serra Catholic into the Section 4 group.

The Raiders tied Apollo-Ridge for third place in the section this fall and qualified for the playoffs. Apollo-Ridge leaves the section for a Class 2A section that includes Freeport, Deer Lakes, Valley and Burrell.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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