What could WPIAL football conferences look like next season?

Friday, January 12, 2018 | 1:38 AM

The wait is almost over.

The WPIAL football committee met Thursday to decide the conferences for the next two seasons, leaving coaches, players and fans eager to see where they're headed on Friday nights next fall.

Here's a hypothetical look at what the football committee could decide.

The committee's actual recommendations won't be made public until the WPIAL board of directors meets Jan. 15.

Chaired by Gateway athletic director Randy Rovesti, the committee is tasked every two years with regrouping the district's teams in a geographically friendly way.

Class 6A (Nine teams, one conference)

Butler, Canon-McMillan, Central Catholic, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny, Norwin, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.

Class 5A (24 teams, three conferences)

Conference 1: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Chartiers Valley, Moon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny could fit together nicely. But those seven schools still would need an eighth team to complete their conference.

Conference 2: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Mars, North Hills, Penn Hills, Plum and Shaler could make a geographically friendly group of eight.

Conference 3 could start with four teams from Westmoreland County and two from Fayette: Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Franklin Regional, Kiski Area, Latrobe and Penn-Trafford. Gateway should slide into this conference. The eighth spot could be either McKeesport or Woodland Hills with the other joining Conference 1.

Class 4A (16 teams, two conferences)

The Big Nine should return nearly intact: Belle Vernon, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity and West Mifflin are potential holdovers from the past two seasons. But that's only seven teams. The conference would need one more from the nine teams remaining. The WPIAL committee's pick could be South Fayette, which sits the farthest south among the available group.

If so, that would leave Beaver to join Ambridge, Blackhawk, Highlands, Indiana, Knoch, Montour and New Castle in the old Northwest Nine.

Class 3A (17 teams, two conferences)

This classification had three conferences the past two seasons and could be divided in any number of ways.

If the WPIAL committee sticks to geography and chooses a roughly north/south divide, that could put Aliquippa, Beaver Falls, Burrell, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Central Valley, Deer Lakes, Freeport, Hopewell and Quaker Valley together in one very tough conference.

The other conference would have Derry, Elizabeth Forward, Keystone Oaks, Mt. Pleasant, South Park, Uniontown, Waynesburg and Yough.

Pick an east/west divide and Keystone Oaks could have a very Beaver County-heavy schedule.

Class 2A (31 teams, four conferences)

This classification is also a little messy.

Ellwood City, Freedom, Mohawk, Neshannock, New Brighton, Riverside, Shenango and Western Beaver could form an eight-team Beaver/Lawrence County conference.

Avonworth, Brentwood, Carlynton, East Allegheny, Serra Catholic, Seton La Salle, South Allegheny and Steel Valley could form a revamped Three Rivers Conference that circles Pittsburgh.

Conference 3 could be Washington/Greene County-focused with Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Carmichaels, Charleroi, Fort Cherry, McGuffey, South Side and Washington.

But for Conference 4, that would leave seven schools that aren't all next-door neighbors: Apollo-Ridge, Brownsville, Frazier, Southmoreland, Summit Academy, Shady Side Academy and Valley.

So, Class 2A could require some creativity.

Class A (23 teams, three conferences)

The WPIAL's smallest classification might see the fewest changes.

Many of the schools could maintain their conference slot from the past two seasons. An exception might be Bishop Canevin, which fits better geographically in the Big Seven after two seasons in the Eastern.

Big Seven: Bishop Canevin, Cornell, Laurel, Northgate, OLSH, Rochester, Sto-Rox and Union.

Eastern: Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Imani Christian, Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview and Springdale.

Tri-County South: Avella, Bentworth, California, Chartiers-Houston, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen and West Greene.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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