Thought to be moving up to 3A for next 2 years, Westinghouse will instead play Class A football

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Thursday, January 18, 2024 | 9:15 AM


City League champion Westinghouse is dropping to Class A football next season after successfully avoiding a promotion under the PIAA competitive-balance rule.

Bulldogs coach Donta Green said the PIAA initially identified 21 Westinghouse players as possible transfers, a total that would’ve put the team in jeopardy of moving from Class 2A to 3A. However, Green said that number was reduced to two after the school submitted paperwork to the PIAA.

Teams must have three or more transfers to be promoted under the PIAA competition formula.

“The PIAA gave us a letter stating that we will be competing in 1A for this next cycle due to our enrollment,” Green said Wednesday from the Dominican Republic, where he was putting roofs on houses as part of a mission trip.

Westinghouse has 127 boys according to updated PIAA enrollment numbers released in November. The bottom number for Class 2A is 144 boys, so the school is below the cutoff.

The Bulldogs finished as state runners-up in Class 2A the past two seasons and could’ve played up voluntarily, but Green said the school district preferred the team stay in the classification that matches its actual enrollment.

“It’s OK,” Green said. “It does sting a little bit that we won’t be able to play Southern Columbia, but other than that, I can’t be mad at the district for wanting us to play where we’re classified.”

Westinghouse and Southern Columbia met in the state finals two years in a row. Their most recent matchup in December ended in heartbreak for the Bulldogs when Southern Columbia drove 99 yards and scored with 42 seconds left to win 21-20.

The competitive-balance rule targets football teams that had success in the state playoffs and added three or more transfers in a two-year span.

The PIAA has not revealed which teams will be affected by its competitive-balance rule. Wednesday was the deadline for the PIAA executive staff to rule on initial appeals filed by the schools.

Schools who were unsuccessful in their appeal can request a hearing with the PIAA board, which meets Wednesday in Mechanicsburg. Westinghouse’s appeal was successful, so it won’t need to take that step.

Green said his team’s transfer numbers were erroneously high because a number of freshmen play football for youth leagues in Pittsburgh instead of the high school. They join Westinghouse’s roster as sophomores.

“That makes it looks like they transferred when really they just didn’t play high school football in ninth grade,” he said.

Green traveled to the Dominican Republic this week with Meeting God in Missions, an organization led by Pastor Rick Wiater of Good Shepherd Church in Upper St. Clair. The mission trip was Green’s first.

Green said he was there with more than 100 others, including some from Wisconsin and upstate New York. They were fixing houses in a community about two and a half hours from Punta Cana.

“It’s definitely life changing,” Green said. “I wish I could stay here much longer. You just want to continue to help.”

The living conditions for the area’s residents were harsher than he’d imagined. For instance, the house he and others were working on Wednesday had dirt floors.

“Where I’m living at right now, there’s no hot water,” Green said. “The septic tanks, you can’t flush the toilet paper. You have to put it in the trash. It’s a different way of life. I think about at home, sometimes my kids will have the shower running five minutes before they get in. We completely take for granted the fact that we have hot water, and we have these amenities.

“It’s definitely an eye-opener.”

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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