Westmoreland high school notebook: PIAA denies WPIAL soccer request

Saturday, July 20, 2019 | 6:14 PM

WPIAL soccer coaches won’t get their wish — at least not in the near future — but there always is room for speculation when a potential rule change begins to get a push for acceptance.

The PIAA recently tabled a request for the WPIAL to start a pilot program to try out the “diagonal system of control” for soccer officials.

While the state’s governing body for high school athletics could implement the arrangement down the road, the WPIAL and other leagues will keep using the “double dual” system.

Franklin Regional boys soccer coach Rand Hudson said the more traditional diagonal officiating style is used “everywhere else on the planet at every level,” except in the PIAA. Hudson is a longtime club coach and is in favor of the WPIAL adopting the universal style.

“I personally would welcome the role of the AR (assistant referees),” Hudson said. “The three whistles and a rotating center creates issues. Each interprets differently in the middle (of the field). Players just get used to the center ref’s style, then a new one comes in. It’s like batters getting used to a particular strike zone on different umps.”

Greensburg Central Catholic boys coach Tyler Solis, who played at Robert Morris, also sees advantages to the diagonal system, namely consistency with the people wearing stripes.

“It would help improve the standard of the game,” Solis said. “But it requires three refs for officiating games. For most of our games, being a smaller school, we only get two officials. Soccer is a sport where the officials have room for interpretation on how physical they want the game to be played, so with one official you get consistency.”

In the double-dual system, three referees — two on the sides and one in the center of the field — can whistle fouls independently. The trio rotates during the game.

The key difference with the diagonal system is that the center official — who moves from corner-to-corner (there is no rotation with the other two) — is the only one who can whistle fouls.

The “ARs” use flags to alert the center ref of a violation, and the center official makes the final call.

The PIAA argues giving each official a whistle — the current system has been in place for 20 years — cut down on off-the-ball fouls, “cleaned up the game” and allowed the better-skilled teams, not those that were more physical, to win.

“I think the AR and flags (would) help the offsides situation in the game,” Hudson said. “The center ref would need to be pretty fit in the new system.”

Solis said the diagonal system would give club and future college players a better idea of what to expect from officials at the next level.

Whitlock’s role

When a player with the potential of sophomore Devin Whitlock joins your team, it might seem like a relatively painless decision as to where to play him.

But Whitlock might need some time to find his role on the Belle Vernon football team. Whitlock, a shifty, big-play quarterback who transferred from Monessen, was declared eligible last week by the WPIAL and joined Belle Vernon for 7-on-7 competitions.

Senior quarterback Jared Hartman is returning after a knee injury and is expected to be the front-runner under center. So, where does that leave Whitlock?

Slot back? Wide receiver? Tailback?

It’s clear the Leopards, who return an abundance of talent at numerous positions and could be the team to beat in Class 4A, want to get the ball in Whitlock’s hands and let his legs do the rest.

Could it be the beginning of “Slash” time at BVA?

“From film and summer workouts, Devin has a strong athletic versatility about him,” Belle Vernon coach Matt Humbert said. “He is a bright kid and has a good football sense. It is too early to forecast how we will utilize him. He is versatile enough to play a few different places.”

Lisbon’s offers

Penn-Trafford running back and safety Caleb Lisbon is up to seven Division I offers as he gets set to play his senior season.

In addition to Albany, Delaware, Fordham and Navy, Lisbon revealed recently he also has scholarship or appointment opportunities with New Hampshire, Air Force and Robert Morris.

The Citadel and Holy Cross also have expressed interest.

Lisbon does not appear to be in a hurry to make his decision.

“I want to talk with my family and those who I trust and figure out what school is the best fit for me,” Lisbon said. “I might wait until after the season. We’ll have to see.”

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

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