Monessen in 'super conference'
When word came down that perennial Class AA powers Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic were dropping down to Class A in football, Monessen coach Andy Pacak knew one thing was guaranteed.
“I was certain that in some way shape or form that us, Clairton, GCC and Jeannette would be all together,” he said.
Pacak proved to be a prophet as the newly released WPIAL football alignment for the next two years does, indeed, have the four football powers in the same conference.
And throw in Springdale, Riverview, Wilkinsburg, Leechburg and Serra Catholic for good measure.
Welcome to the Eastern Conference.
The shake-up in Class A was the biggest of the four classifications in the new realignment, which will be in effect for the next two years.
“It sure sounds like fun to me,” Pacak said with a chuckle. “I'm looking forward to it. How could you not? You always want to play the best teams if you are worth anything.
“I was a little surprised that they would put us all in the Eastern Conference, but I knew we would be together. I'll say what I always say when these realignments come around and that is simply that we will go and play wherever the WPIAL puts us.”
Pacak paused for a moment and added, “But I will say this right now: We will finish either first or second in this conference — again — because our expectations never change. We expect to do well, as always.”
In Pacak's 10 years as head coach, the Greyhounds finished first or second nine times in their conference.
Another area school on the move in Class A is California, which returned to the Tri-County South Conference after two years in the Black Hills with Monessen.
“Our administration wanted to get back into the Tri-County South because of geography and the long-time rivalries we had built there, “ said California coach Bo Teets.
“Personally, I was on the fence because I really enjoyed the tough competition week in and week out (in the Black Hills), but this is probably better for us. We are familiar with these schools again.”
California will rejoin Frazier, Bentworth, Beth-Center, Carmichaels, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown and West Greene in the T-C South.
In Class AA, Charleroi will have some new members in the Interstate Conference with Yough moving up to Class AAA and GCC and Jeannette dropping down.
Joining holdovers Charleroi, Brownsville, Mt. Pleasant, Southmoreland, Washington and Waynesburg will be McGuffey, Derry and Burgettstown.
“I really feel a lot of relief,” said Charleroi coach Ed Jenkins. “I mean, not to take anything away from the schools we have coming into the conference, but from a competitive standpoint this is big for us.
“It will be nice to look at the schedule and feel week in and week out we can go out there and compete and hopefully win and not have to wait for a certain stretch in the schedule for that to happen. I think it's a good conference. I'm very pleased.”
In Class AAA, the Big 9 Conference remains the same with Belle Vernon Area, Ringgold, Elizabeth Forward, Thomas Jefferson, Uniontown, Trinity, Laurel Highlands and Albert Gallatin.
Yough did not get into the Big 9 on its move up. Instead, the Cougars will join the Greater Allegheny Conference with Franklin Regional, Greensburg Salem, Hampton, Indiana, Knoch, Mars, Hollidaysburg and newcomer Gateway.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.