Potential enrollment error has Woodland Hills moving to WPIAL 6A football

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023 | 5:55 PM


Woodland Hills may have misreported its enrollment numbers to the PIAA, causing its sports teams to jump into higher classifications starting next year.

The school reported 638 boys and 619 girls, according to updated enrollment numbers released Tuesday by the PIAA, but Wolverines football coach Brian Tarrant said those figures are incorrect. The increase means his football team will jump next season to Class 6A, the sport’s largest classification. He said the correct numbers would’ve kept the Wolverines in 5A.

“It was definitely misreported,” Tarrant said. “We don’t have 638 kids.”

The PIAA released updated enrollment numbers for all sports.

Teams have until Friday to voluntarily “play up” into a higher classification. The lists released Tuesday did not include the effects of the PIAA competitive-balance rule, which are determined later.

Tarrant said Woodland Hills has asked the PIAA to let the school fix its reported enrollment. The PIAA board meets Dec. 6.

The new numbers also have Woodland Hills competing to 6A in boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.

“They have indicated they made an error in their submission and are requesting the Board’s consideration,” PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said.

Woodland Hills athletic director Tymeer Brown didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

It’s unclear whether the PIAA will grant Woodland Hills’ request.

Member schools submit updated enrollment information every two years, and the PIAA uses that data to realign teams into classifications. Schools count boys and girls in grades 9-11.

The PIAA traditionally hasn’t let schools fix enrollment errors after the deadline. Notably, Sto-Rox in 2014 faced a similar dilemma and the PIAA forced the Vikings to remain in a higher football classification.

If Woodland Hills stays in Class 6A football for the 2024 and ’25 seasons, the WPIAL would have as many as nine teams in the largest classification, up from five this year. In the new PIAA numbers, Hempfield and Norwin moved up to join Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny and Seneca Valley in 6A.

Central Catholic’s enrollment now qualifies for Class 5A football, but athletic director Rick Capretta said the Vikings will play in 6A. Butler would be the ninth in 6A if the team decides to return to WPIAL competition rather than pursue an independent schedule.

The PIAA changed the formula used for counting enrollment this year, so many public schools were expected to see an increase from two years ago.

PIAA enrollment increases for Armstrong, Connellsville, Kiski Area and Latrobe will move their football teams from Class 4A to 5A. Connellsville added more than 200 boys, largely because of the PIAA formula change.

Defending Class 3A state champion Belle Vernon is headed to 4A, joined by Knoch and West Mifflin. Burrell, Charleroi, Derry, McGuffey and Yough will move from 2A to 3A.

Carlynton moves up to 2A.

A number of football teams could be moving down in classification, including Highlands and North Catholic to 3A. South Park, Shady Side Academy and South Allegheny now have 2A enrollments, while Brentwood, Neshannock and Imani Christian qualify for Class A. Any of those teams could elect to voluntarily play up as Serra Catholic (Class A to 2A) and Seton LaSalle (2A to 3A) did the past two seasons.

In the 2021 realignment, schools counted only 10% of students in alternate settings such as charter, cyber or home schools. Now, a school must count 100% of those students toward its PIAA enrollment.

Still, Woodland Hills’ increase was more than would be expected.

The school reported 413 boys in 2019, 245 in ’21 and 639 this year. The girls enrollment dropped from 370 in 2019 to 250 in ’21 under the 10% rule — and now jumped to 619.

Under the 10% rule, the Woodland Hills football team qualified to compete in Class 3A the past two season. However, the Wolverines voluntarily played up to 5A in those years.

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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