WPIAL releases updated football schedules with Aliquippa returning to 4A

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Tuesday, June 4, 2024 | 9:54 AM


The WPIAL released updated football schedules Tuesday that put defending state champion Aliquippa back in Class 4A for next season, but that move also affected about two dozen other schools.

The new schedules were issued after a ruling last month by a Beaver County judge.

The WPIAL removed the Quips from the Class 5A Northeast Conference and returned them to the Parkway, where they’ve spent the past four seasons. Reworking Aliquippa’s schedule caused some schools to see a one- or two-game change in their schedules.

“We tried to make as little impact to the overall schedule as possible and at the same time plug Aliquippa in at the 4A level,” WPIAL chief operating officer Vince Sortino said.

The WPIAL switched up 17 matchups.

In Week 1, Aliquippa hosts Belle Vernon and Montour visits Moon.

In Week 2, Avonworth hosts Aliquippa and New Castle hosts Highlands.

In Week 5, North Hills visits Norwin and Aliquippa hosts New Castle.

In Week 6, Fox Chapel hosts Franklin Regional, Central Catholic visits Shaler and West Allegheny visits Aliquippa.

In Week 7, Pine-Richland hosts Latrobe, Freeport visits Hopewell and Blackhawk hosts Aliquippa.

In Week 8, Kiski Area hosts Plum and Aliquippa visits Montour.

In Week 9, Fox Chapel hosts East Allegheny, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart visits Keystone Oaks and Aliquippa hosts Ambridge.

Two games on Aliquippa’s schedule — Week 3 at home against Mars and Week 4 at Penn Hills — remained unchanged from what the WPIAL initially released in March.

“We tried to be less disruptive for everybody,” football committee co-chairman Mike Burrell said. “You release schedules and people are already picking their homecomings. People are picking senior days and all of that, so we wanted to be the least intrusive as possible.”

Sortino said the schedules cover the next two seasons. Home games this fall will switch to road games in 2025.

The PIAA had intended to promote Aliquippa to Class 5A under its competitive-balance rule, but a lawsuit filed by the school district successfully blocked that move for now. Common Pleas Judge James Ross ruled May 25 that Aliquippa must be kept to 4A while the merits of its case are decided.

It’s unclear how the PIAA intends to respond to Ross’ ruling. PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi declined to comment Tuesday after the updated schedules were released.

The Mars, Penn Hills, Belle Vernon and Avonworth games are nonconference matchups for Aliquippa with the rest being Parkway games. The Quips will play one Class 5A opponent this fall since Penn Hills remains on the schedule.

Aliquippa was a 3A team before the competitive-balance ruled forced the Quips to 4A in 2020. They’ve gone 24-0 against Parkway opponents since, winning three WPIAL titles, two state titles and finishing as the state runner-up once.

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

Aliquippa met both criteria according to the PIAA, but the school’s lawsuit argued in part that facing opponents with three or four times more students would put players’ health and safety at risk. The judge granted a preliminary injunction after hearing three days of testimony.

Parkway traffic

Aliquippa was slated to join the Class 5A Northeast Conference under the PIAA competitive-balance rule, but instead was returned Tuesday to the 4A Parkway.

Northeast: Fox Chapel, North Hills, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland, Plum and Shaler

Parkway: Aliquippa, Ambridge, Blackhawk, Montour, New Castle and West Allegheny

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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