Scholastic Notebook – 12/20/2013

Friday, December 20, 2013 | 11:55 PM

Every two years, the PIAA realigns classifications in all sports. The PIAA’s realignment for the next two years brings about some noteworthy changes in WPIAL sports.

The PIAA bases its classifications on school enrollments. In October, schools had to report the number of boys and girls they had in grades 9 through 11. Earlier this week, the PIAA released the enrollment figures for all schools in the state.

Some of the major changes in WPIAL football for the next two years will be:

* Gateway drops from Class AAAA to AAA. Since the school opened in the 1950s, Gateway had always played in the WPIAL’s largest classification.

* Jeannette, which had been playing in Class AA for more than 30 years, will drop to Class A next season. Jeannette’s rival, Greensburg Central Catholic, also will drop from Class AA to A next season.

* Sto-Rox, which played for the Class A title the past three years, will go up to Class AA next season.

* Apollo-Ridge, West Shamokin, Laurel and Carlynton will also move up to Class AA. West Shamokin made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time this past season, but it was in Class A.

* Yough is the only other team moving up – from Class AA to AAA.

* Highlands and Derry move from Class AAA to AA and Riverside drops from Class AA to A.

There will also be some major movement in WPIAL boys basketball.

* New Castle and Hampton will drop back to Class AAA next season. The two teams played for the WPIAL Class AAA title in 2012 and for the AAAA championship in 2013. They are ranked 1-2 in this year’s AAAA rankings.

* Chartiers Valley is on the move again. The Colts have bounced around from Class AAAA to AAA and back a number of times. Next year, they again move from AAA to AAAA.

* Lincoln Park, which has turned into a perennial Class A power, will be in Class AA next season. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart also goes from Class A to AA. Lincoln Park also plans to start girls basketball in the 2015-16 season.

* Beaver Falls has won the past two Class AA championships, but they will play in Class AAA next season. Beaver Falls made this decision on their own. Teams can play “up” if they choose. Beaver Falls’ enrollment places the school in Class AA, but the Tigers want to play up.

* Jeannette, Riverview, Jeff-Morgan, Springdale and Serra all drop from Class AA to A.

* Trinity drops from Class AAAA to AAA and East Allegheny and Waynesburg from AAA to AA.

One of the major changes in girls basketball is Chartiers Valley drops from Class AAAA to AAA. It’s funny since the Chartiers Valley boys are moving up from Class AAA to AAA.

Also in girls basketball, Jeannette moves from Class AA to A and West Allegheny from AAA to AAAA.

In baseball, Beaver moves up from Class AA to AAA. Beaver won the WPIAL Class AA title last season.

No to McDowell and Westinghouse

McDowell and Westinghouse had wanted to join the WPIAL in football only. After the PIAA enrollment numbers came out, the WPIAL denied them admission. McDowell plays in District 10 and Westinghouse in the City League.

The reason that the WPIAL said no thanks is because the league doesn’t need the two teams for scheduling. When you combine Class AAAA and AAA there are an even number of teams in the WPIAL. Class AA and A also provides an even number of teams. WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley said having an even number of teams lets the WPIAL give all teams a nine-game schedule. By taking McDowell and Westinghouse there would have been an odd number of teams in those two combinations (AAAA-AAA and AA-A). Thus, the WPIAL couldn’t give all teams a nine-game schedule.

Football Recruiting

Over the past 11 days, four of the WPIAL’s top players announced their college choices. Pitt was a finalist for all of them, but landed only one.

Washington running back Shai McKenzie announced Friday afternoon that he will be attending Virginia Tech. Although McKenzie missed most of his senior year with a knee injury, he was still heavily recruited. His finalists were Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech.

McKenzie plans to start college in the spring semester.

Thursday, Gateway defensive back Montae Nicholson announced he would attend Michigan State. Florida State and Pitt were his other two finalists. Nicholson also plans to run track at Michigan State.

Last week, Aliquippa defensive back Dravon Henry announced he will play at West Virginia. Pitt was also a finalist for him.

The one player Pitt did land from the WPIAL in the past week was Mt. Lebanon offensive lineman Alex Bookser. He didn’t hold a news conference but he made a verbal commitment to Pitt Wednesday night. He also was considering Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee.

All-State Football Teams

The sports writers all-state football teams were announced this week and the WPIAL was represented well on the Class AAAA team.

Of the 24 players from the WPIAL selected to the teams, nine were in Class AAAA. They were: Central Catholic’s Zack DeLuca and Niko Thorpe, Mt. Lebanon’s Alex Bookser and Troy Apke, North Allegheny’s Elijah Zeise, Bethel Park’s Mike Grimm, Upper St. Clair’s Ben Huss, Baldwin’s Sterling Jenkins and Gateway’s Montae Nicholson.

Four players made it from Class AAA – Thomas Jefferson’s Chase Winovich, West Allegheny’s Tory Delmonico, New Castle’s Malik Hooker and Indiana’s Darrious Carter.

Five WPIAL players made it in Class AA and all were from Aliquippa and South Fayette. Terry Swanson, Dravon Henry and Jaleel Fields made it from Aliquippa, and Brett Brumbaugh and Justin Watson from South Fayette. Brumbaugh was selected the Class AA player of the year and South Fayette’s Joe Rossi the Class AA coach of the year.

Six players from WPIAL Class A made all-state, including three from Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. They were P.J. Fulmore, Ryan Long and Jarred Fragapane. North Catholic’s Bob Ravenstahl was selected the Class A coach of the year. Also making it from the WPIAL were Sto-Rox’s Lenny Williams, Monessen’s Clintell Gillespie and Apollo-Ridge’s Tre Tipton.

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