Alle-Kiski high school notebook: Conference changes favor A-K Valley football teams
By Bill Beckner and Bill West
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Amid a busy afternoon schedule Tuesday, Apollo-Ridge football coach John Skiba made sure he kept an eye on Twitter.
Once the news he sought for weeks finally popped up on his feed, Skiba sighed.
Fearful about where the WPIAL football steering committee planned to put his Vikings in its realigned Class AA conferences, the coach found relief when he learned Apollo-Ridge ended up in a group loaded with Alle-Kiski Valley programs rather than one with teams from Washington and southern Westmoreland County.
The 10-team Allegheny Conference, in place for the next two seasons, includes the Vikings, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ford City, Freeport, Highlands, Kittanning, Shady Side Academy, Valley and West Shamokin. Highlands came down from Class AAA, and West Shamokin and Apollo-Ridge moved up from Class A.
“I definitely was a little nervous about not being back in this area, but I'm glad it worked out,” Skiba said. “I think it'll be an easier sell to get excited about these games. I don't think we'd have that same intensity if we were stuck somewhere out in the Interstate Conference.
One uncertainty in the Allegheny is what the WPIAL plans to do when Ford City and Kittanning merge in 2015; Armstrong will be too large to stay in Class AA.
Apollo-Ridge leaves an Eastern Conference that underwent considerable change. Gone are defending WPIAL and PIAA champ North Catholic, Avonworth and Northgate. Springdale, Leechburg, Riverview and Wilkinsburg remain. New additions include Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Monessen and Serra Catholic.
The arrival of perennial Class AA powers Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette failed to surprise Springdale coach Dave Leasure, who suspected they might replace Avonworth and North Catholic. But he struggled to figure out why Clairton and Monessen, two other Class A perennial frontrunners, also ended up in the conference.
“We knew it'd be a tough task for us, regardless,” Leasure said. “The expectation here is to make the playoffs, and people don't care whether you're in the Eastern Conference or the ACC.
“The silver lining is we'll get to play the best, and we'll play in some great small-school venues. … The great thing about it is the challenge.”
In Class AAAA, Plum will leave the Quad Central and join the Westmoreland County-heavy Quad East, which still includes Kiski Area.
And in Class AAA, Knoch remains in the Greater Allegheny Conference, which will also include former perennial Class AAAA playoff qualifier Gateway.
The WPIAL also released realigned sections for all other fall sports.
In boys soccer, Kiski Area moves from Section 1-AAA to Section 3-AAA, where it'll join Fox Chapel and Plum, among others.
In boys golf, Highlands and Valley move down to Class AA, where they'll join Burrell, Ford City, Freeport, Kittanning, Leechburg and West Shamokin in Section 1.
Knoch moved up to Class AAA in boys tennis.
The next Cappa
Riverview hired Jason Cappa as its next football coach, replacing Todd Massack, who resigned after last season.
Cappa, 37, was Riverview's first all-state player as a tight end/linebacker in 1995. He served as Massack's defensive coordinator for all seven seasons. He is the son of longtime Raiders coach Jake Cappa.
“If there ever was a program that I wanted to take over and try to turn around,” Cappa said, “it's this one.”
Cappa said he was offered the Gateway job but declined. He teaches at Career Connections in Lawrenceville and did not like the thought of a long commute.
Brungo to Pitt
Kiski Area standout receiver Joey Brungo has accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Pitt. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior can earn a future scholarship with the team.
Brungo is Kiski Area's career leader in receptions (103) and yards (1,521). He scored 17 touchdowns. He's also a second cousin of North Allegheny senior wide receiver/defensive back Elijah Zeise, who has committed to Pitt.
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