Westmoreland H.S. notebook: Norwin, Hempfield ready for challenges after football realignment

Saturday, January 22, 2022 | 5:40 PM

Now that they have a better idea of what they will be dealing with in their new classification and conference, Norwin and Hempfield can begin to plan out next football season.

The WPIAL announced new alignments for the next two-year cycle, and Class 5A newcomers Norwin and Hempfield are stationed in yet-to-be-named Section 2, falling in line with Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn-Trafford, Plum and Woodland Hills.

Geography is an obvious benefit, as the Knights and Spartans will drastically cut down on lengthy road trips to the South Hills and surrounding areas.

“The closest team on our 6A conference schedule was always Hempfield,” Norwin coach Dave Brozeski said. “Now our travel to conference games is greatly reduced.”

Realignment also ups the ante in the Norwin vs. Penn-Trafford rivalry game. Instead of a Week Zero opener, the matchup will be a conference game.

Hempfield also gets more backyard rivalry-type games that should attract more fans and hype.

Then there is the competitive angle. Norwin and Hempfield will be able to compete for a playoff berth against more similarly rostered teams, which they will learn about in the offseason.

“Our focus still remains solely on our team and how we can prepare to develop our team for the 2022 season, regardless of opponents,” Brozeski said. “That being said, an adjustment that my coaching staff and I have to address is increasing our familiarity of the conference teams. We have only played games vs. Hempfield and P-T and will have to start doing our homework to increase our familiarity with their personnel as well as they types of offenses, defenses and special teams schemes that we will be facing.”

Other local football changes involve Latrobe, which drops from 5A to 4A and will join a conference with Connellsville, Laurel Highlands, McKeesport, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson and Trinity.

Belle Vernon, the WPIAL Class 4A runner-up, and Greensburg Salem both are down a rung, in 3A, and will be conference opponents again with Elizabeth Forward, Mt. Pleasant, South Allegheny and Southmoreland.

Class 2A’s Section 1 will house Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Derry, Imani Christian, Ligonier Valley, Serra Catholic, Steel Valley and Yough.

“We’re looking forward to playing in a new classification,” Yough coach Chris Chunko said.

Section 1-A, likely to remain the Eastern Conference, has Clairton, Frazier, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview and Springdale.

Soccer changes

Penn-Trafford and Latrobe dropped from 4A to 3A but will remain section foes in boys and girls soccer.

The Warriors and Wildcats will be in a section with Franklin Regional, Gateway, McKeesport, Obama Academy, Penn Hills and Plum.

Greensburg Salem, Belle Vernon and Ligonier Valley all dropped to 2A.

Jeannette is the only Westmoreland boys team “playing up.” A Class A team, the Jayhawks will compete in 2A.

The Penn-Trafford and Latrobe girls will play in the same section, alongside Greensburg Salem, Gateway, Franklin Regional, Penn Hills and Plum.

“We have to stay on our toes,” Latrobe coach Jamie Morrison said. “We still have to be ready to compete every night.”

Latrobe is expected to be one of the top teams in the class after reaching the 4A quarterfinals, but perennial power Mars and Moon could have something to say about that.

Ligonier Valley is playing up in 2A. Its section also will include Mt. Pleasant Area, Southmoreland and Yough.

Like mother, like daughter

Senior basketball player Gracie Spadaro moved in with some unique company when she joined the 1,000-point club at Southmoreland.

Well, she was already moved in. Her mom achieved the same milestone 25 years ago.

Susan (Love) Spadaro, an assistant coach for her daughter’s team, also scored 1,000 when she played for the Scotties. She graduated in 1997 with 1,076 points.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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