Scholastic Notebook – 09/18/2015

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Friday, September 18, 2015 | 5:55 PM


To the PIAA, more is better.

At least in football.

The landscape of Pennsylvania football – and the WPIAL – might be changing real soon. The change will be significant.

On Wednesday, the PIAA strategic planning committee and the PIAA football committee voted to recommend to the PIAA board of directors that football in Pennsylvania go to six classifications, starting next year.

It was a noteworthy vote because the PIAA board of directors usually – but not always – does what the strategic planning committee recommends. The PIAA board has already passed this 6A idea twice and needs to pass it only one more time Oct. 19 for it to go into effect for the 2016-17 school year.

In addition, the PIAA strategic planning committee also recommended that the PIAA board consider going to six classes in boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball, as well as examine adding classifications for all sports.

The idea of expanding basketball, baseball and softball would normally have to pass three votes. But Bob Lombardi, executive director of the PIAA, said the board could suspend protocol and vote the proposal in only once in October. That would make it go into effect for the 2016-17 season.

“I think by the strategic planning committee voting for the board to look at other sports, the leadership of districts is listening to their members,” said Lombardi.

But the WPIAL is strongly opposed to adding two classifications in football. The league likes the way its regular season and playoffs run with only four classes.

“We’re opposed to 6A football because we question whether it’s going to serve the needs of our members?” said WPIAL executive director Tim O’Malley. “And what’s the reason for the need to have six classes?”

Lombardi said six classes would equal the playing field more with schools playing more schools closer to their size. In other words, there would not be as many schools playing in the largest classification against schools twice their size, or larger.

But O’Malley and other WPIAL officials contend the problem with playing bigger schools is not fixed with 6A. They point out there are still a number of teams right in the WPIAL that will be playing schools with 300-400 boys or more.

The WPIAL also is concerned that new classifications will break up long-standing rivalries, destroy geographical conferences and sections, and create scheduling problems, as well as postseason problems. The league would not be able to play all of its football championships in one day at Heinz Field, like it does now.

One-Two Punches

Only two weeks of the season are gone, but it seems like there might be an inordinate number of potent one-two punches around the WPIAL.

After two weeks, there were five teams that had two running backs averaging more than 100 yards a game. And together, their yards-per-carry average was sometimes better than a first down.

West Allegheny’s Terence Stephens and Whitney White were the most potent, as far as total yards gained. Stephens was the WPIAL’s fourth-leading rusher with 331 yards and White had 230. Stephens was averaging 10.7 yards a carry and White 9.2.

As far as biggest yards-per-carry averages, no one can compare to Clairton’s twosome of Lamont Wade and Harrison Dreher. They are averaging 15.5 yards per carry. Dreher has rushed for 281 yards and is averaging 14.8, while Wade has rushed for 216 and is averaging 16.6.

Woodland Hills’ Miles Sanders has rushed for 297 yards and Jo-El Shaw 221. Central Catholic’s Vinny Emanuele has 251 and Ronnie Jones 201. And finally, Ringgold’s Chacar Berry has 290 yards and Brendan Small 202.

TJ-LH Out of Whack

Thomas Jefferson plays at Laurel Highlands Friday night. It doesn’t seem unusual that one team is 2-0 and the other 0-2. But it seems upside down that Thomas Jefferson is 0-2 and Laurel Highlands 2-0.

Thomas Jefferson is 0-2 for the first time since 1994. The Jaguars haven’t been 0-3 since 1989.

Laurel Highlands, meanwhile, has a number of starters back from last year’s team. But the Mustangs haven’t had a winning season since 1996 when they went 7-3 and finished in a tie for second in the Class AAAA Quad South Conference. But only three teams from each conference went to the playoffs then and Laurel Highlands lost out on tiebreakers and finished fourth.

Laurel Highlands was 2-0 last year also before losing to Thomas Jefferson, 48-19.

Sting of Yellowjackets Passing

Over the past dozen years, it was rare to find a quarterback at Freeport who threw for 1,000 yards in a season. The Yellowjackets obviously have had a change in offensive philosophy.

After two weeks of the season, the WPIAL’s leading passer is Freeport’s Ryan Weigold, who is already more than halfway to 1,000 yards. He has completed 24 of 41 for 552 yards.

This comes one year after Freeport’s Andrew Romanchok finished the regular season with 1,922 yards, third-best in the WPIAL behind only South Fayette’s Brett Brumbaugh and Pine-Richland’s Ben DiNucci.

So far this season, the passing has worked because Freeport is 2-0.

Dixon to Top Program

Jake Dixon of Bethel Park made a college decision this week, deciding to play volleyball at Lewis University near Chicago. To the average high school fan, that might not sound like much. What most people don’t know is Lewis’ program is top-notch.

This is all you need to know about Lewis: It played for the NCAA Division I volleyball championship last year.

Dixon seems to have loads of volleyball potential. He is 6 feet 6 and an excellent leaper. Plus, he’s a very good athlete, playing three sports. He starts at tight end for the football team and is one of the top players on the basketball team.

Edwards to Air Force

James Edwards is ready to spread his wings – at Air Force Academy, that is.

Edwards is a senior guard at Plum and one of the top players in the WPIAL class of 2016. Earlier this week, he decided he will play at Air Force.

Edwards averaged 20.2 points a game last season.

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