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Guido: Timing of new high school tricky for WPIAL

The 2013 Kiski Area Sports Hall of Fame class: Front, from left, Kelsey Knapp, Sharon Waddell, Tina Hall Booher, Marcie Hepler and Stacy Jastrzembski Ankrum. Back row: Anthony Colecchi, Mike Corcetti, Asayan Jordon, Vince Woody and Chris Recchia.

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By George Guido
Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 12:12 a.m.

High school sports fans around the Alle-Kiski Valley and the rest of the state are eagerly awaiting the classification homes for their favorite high school teams over the next two years.

The PIAA reclassifies schools every two years, and the schools are assigned classifications in various sports based on enrollment.

But things likely won't be going as smoothly as usual over the next two-year cycle. That's because the new Armstrong High School is slated to open in September 2015, halfway into the next two-year cycle.

In football for instance, Kittanning and Ford City — scheduled to merge to create the new school — both appear to be in Class AA for 2014 and figure to be in the Allegheny Conference.

But if they merge for the 2015-16 school year, the WPIAL will have to adjust the conferences accordingly.

Had Ford City and Kittanning merged over the last two school years, the school would be in Class AAA for football and Class AAAA for basketball, softball and baseball.

Bottom line for now: The WPIAL office's hands are tied until the merger becomes official.

WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said his office is aware of the situation but needs to wait until the consolidation is certain.

Since the PIAA started biennial class realignments in the early 1990s rather than doing it every year, the WPIAL has had a tidy arrangement where schools would have home-and-home series based on a two-year cycle.

For example, a school with four home football games in 2012 played five home games in 2013, with the opponent and site reversing.

Having to adjust conferences halfway through the enrollment cycle could have a domino effect with some schools, conferences and home schedules.

To determine classes, the PIAA takes all the schools in a given sport and divides that sum by the number of classifications.

To use football as an example, there are about 600 football schools in four classes in the state. The 150 largest schools are in Class AAAA, the next 150 are in Class AAA, and so on.

PIAA football finals

Hersheypark Stadium is set to host all four PIAA football finals this weekend.

All four games will be carried live on PCN Cable TV, channel 100 locally.

• Class A: North Catholic (15-0) vs. Old Forge (14-1), 1 p.m. Friday

• Class AA: South Fayette (15-0) vs. Imhotep Charter (13-1), noon Saturday

• Class AAA: Bishop McDevitt (14-1) vs. Archbishop Carroll (12-2), 7 p.m. Friday

• Class AAAA: Central Catholic (15-0) vs. St. Joseph's Prep (12-2), 6 p.m. Saturday

One player to watch will be North Catholic back P.J. Fulmore.

After scoring a touchdown at Heinz Field in the Trojans' 14-0 victory over Sto-Rox in the WPIAL finals, Fulmore tweeted that last summer, he hit a home run for his youth league team at PNC Park.

That puts Fulmore into an elite category of people who have hit a home run at PNC Park and scored a touchdown at Heinz Field.

Section play begins

WPIAL basketball section play begins Thursday and Friday in boys and girls Class AAAA, Class AAA and Section 3-AA.

Section 1-AA gets the ball rolling late next week and Section 4-A gets underway in early January.

The top four teams in each section will make the WPIAL playoffs, scheduled to begin the weekend of Feb. 14-15.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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