Share This Page

WPIAL football coaches brace for realignment

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 11:36 p.m.

With paper, pencil and maybe a map, some WPIAL football coaches have tried to predict the conference their team soon will call home.

But others are resigned to just wait.

“I've never been able to figure anything out correctly,” Monessen coach Andy Pacak said with a laugh. “I've quit trying.”

The speculation will end Tuesday when the WPIAL Board of Control reveals newly aligned football conferences for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Proposals for all four classifications were completed two weeks ago by a 14-person steering committee ordered to remain silent.

All four classes will change somewhat with teams added and subtracted, but Class A might look the most different. Among the key questions: Which Class A conference or conferences will newcomers Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette call home?

“They could make a powerhouse conference if they wanted to,” said Pacak, imagining the two Westmoreland County rivals joining Clairton and his Greyhounds in the Black Hills. “But I don't know if that would happen. When you look at it competitively, maybe they'll mix and match a little bit.”

With only four playoff qualifiers from each conference, there certainly would be stiff competition.

“I doubt very much that they would put all four of us in the same conference,” Jeannette coach Roy Hall said. “But you'd call that a really powerful conference, wouldn't you?”

Those four teams combined for nine WPIAL titles in the past decade, led by Clairton's six.

“That would make it an even tougher conference than it already is,” Clairton coach Tom Nola said.

With just five miles between the schools, it seems likely that GCC and Jeannette should stay paired together when the WPIAL's 34 Class A teams are divided into four conferences. Two will have eight teams, and two will have nine.

The mostly Beaver County-based Big 7 should remain rather intact if Riverside replaces Sto-Rox and Laurel. But the landscape of the Black Hills, Eastern and Tri-County South could change.

“The committee uses geography as best they can,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said, “and once geography is protected, they will try to address the issue of competitive balance — if that's possible.”

Even when using geography to divide schools from eight counties into four conferences, the boundaries are debatable.

Consider: There are 10 Class A teams in Washington and Greene counties, yet they all can't stay together.

“I'm sure there's a lot of different ways they could look at it,” California coach Bo Teets said. “I guess we'll just have to wait and see what they mean by that.”

Much of the movement could revolve around GCC and Jeannette. If not the Black Hills, then one or both could head north to join the Eastern Conference, which traditionally has included schools around Pittsburgh and the Alle-Kiski Valley. GCC was a conference member there before joining Class AA in 2002.

“We were with Wilkinsburg, Riverview, Springdale, Clairton and Duquesne,” GCC coach Dan Mahoney said. “We thought it was a great conference. Maybe they'll put something like that back together, I don't know.”

Or, the two newcomers from Westmoreland County could join a revamped Tri-County South. Road trips to Greene County wouldn't be short, but their inclusion could boost competition.

“If they would take GCC, Jeannette, us and Monessen and put them into the Tri-County South, that goes from being what's considered the weakest conference in Class A to being a pretty stout conference,” said Teets, whose California team asked to switch from the Black Hills to the Tri-County South to renew rivalries with some Washington County neighbors.

Five teams left Class A for AA: Sto-Rox and Laurel from the Big 7, Apollo-Ridge and West Shamokin of the Eastern, and Carlynton from the Black Hills. Former Tri-County South school Geibel Catholic and Imani Christian of the Black Hills won't field WPIAL football teams.

Vincentian Academy, which didn't have a conference but played a Tri-County South schedule last season, will officially join a conference. Geographically, the Royals would appear to fit well into the Eastern.

Until Tuesday, it's all speculation.

“I think they're going to mix it up, shake it up a good bit,” Hall said.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.