Alle-Kiski Valley notebook: Allegheny Conference could feature more local teams
While the WPIAL has not released its new football alignments for next season, there is speculation among local schools that a Class AA conference with up to eight Alle-Kiski Valley teams could happen.
It has been confirmed that two local teams will join the Double-A ranks. Highlands will drop from Class AAA and Apollo-Ridge will move up from Class A.
West Shamokin, although not an A-K Valley school but located in nearby Armstrong County, also is moving up a class.
Assuming the WPIAL keeps the Allegheny Conference mostly intact and aims for it to remain nine teams, it would need to add the three newcomers and drop two of the three other current schools: East Allegheny, Summit Academy and Shady Side Academy.
A new conference could then look like this: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Highlands, Kittanning, Valley and West Shamokin.
This also is assuming the league keeps four conferences. With more teams coming in, a fifth could be a possibility.
One potential problem is that Ford City and Kittanning are scheduled to merge two seasons from now (2015-16 school year), which means they would coexist for only half of the two-year cycle.
The WPIAL will realign conferences in January. The league's board of control will vote on changes to the proposed alignment Jan. 21.
“I'm excited about having the bar raised each week playing in Double-A,” Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba said. “Let's face it, last year in the Eastern A, we had top teams, and then, we had teams that were down so the focus at times was difficult.”
A 10-team conference could add one of the other three back into the mix.
The new-look conference would have a number of benefits for the Valley. Consider:
• Teams could cut down greatly on travel by playing more neighboring schools.
• The area would have an even better chance at a conference champion, a wild-card team and two local home games in the first round.
• The local week-by-week schedule would get smaller while also giving fans more all-local game options.
Sarver to Rollins
Deer Lakes softball standout Sierra “CiCi” Sarver committed to play at Division II Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.
The first baseman said Rollins recruited her mainly as a hitter. Sarver led Deer Lakes to a WPIAL Class AA championship in 2012, hitting .421. Last season, she batted .338 with 25 RBIs and 20 runs.
The Burrell and Kiski Area wrestling teams don't often clash this early in the season, but they'll face each other Thursday.
It remains to be seen if the match will be competitive. Last year, Burrell rested its starters and took a 55-6 thumping.
The heated rivalry, which regularly draws playoff-like crowds, has been controlled mostly by Kiski Area. The Cavaliers have won all but two meetings since 1986, when Chuck Tursky became coach.
Three years ago, the teams tied 33-33, but Burrell won on criteria. Burrell won 41-29 in 2009.
Kinnamon in showcase
For the second year in a row, Kiski Area sophomore softball player Kelsey Kinnamon was selected for the Queen of Diamonds Showcase North on Jan. 4-5 at Kent State. A catcher and utility player, Kinnamon plays travel ball for the Pittsburgh Nitro Showcase team.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.