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Notebook: Catholic League noncommittal following PIAA meeting

| Thursday, Feb. 27, 2003

The PIAA and Philadelphia Catholic League Board of Governors held a cordial, informative meeting last week, but neither party came away expecting the Catholic League to move quickly to join the PIAA.

But a Catholic League spokesman said the meeting cleared a potential hurdle to Catholic League schools joining the statewide scholastic athletic association.

The Catholic League was worried it might be broken up or be forced to eliminate its own postseason playoffs if its schools became PIAA members. PIAA officials pointed out they have no jurisdiction concerning the leagues that schools form or their playoffs.

"Our people wanted to be sure the integrity of our league will be maintained, and that we'll be able to play out for our championships," said Stephen Pawlowski, the assistant superintendent of secondary schools for the Philadelphia Archdiocese. "The answers we got should alleviate those fears."

Joining the PIAA would change the defined seasons in the fall for Catholic League schools. Currently, the Catholic League begins most of its fall sports after Labor Day; PIAA schools begin training in mid-August in order to begin competition before Labor Day.

"They had a lot of questions, and we tried to give them the appropriate answers," PIAA executive director Brad Cashman said.

Another big concern of the Catholic League, according to Cashman, was the preservation of Thanksgiving Day football games, which remain a strong tradition in the Philadelphia area.

Cashman pointed out that only teams that qualified for the PIAA playoffs would have a conflict, and even then teams could play both a Thanksgiving Day game and a PIAA playoff game, if they chose to do so.

In 2001, for example, St. Pius X qualified for the PIAA Class AA playoffs and won the District 1-4 championship. The school was then scheduled for a Thanksgiving Day game with Pottsgrove and a PIAA quarterfinal game with Wilkes-Barre Meyers on the same weekend.

St. Pius played Pottsgrove on the night before Thanksgiving, then played Meyers on a Friday. St. Pius lost to Pottsgrove but defeated Meyers two days later to advance to the PIAA Class AA East championship game against Pen Argyl.

Still, Cashman doesn't think the Catholic League is in any rush, even though the Philadelphia Public League is expected to join the PIAA by mid-July.

"Compared with our talks with the Philadelphia Public League, there was no sense of urgency on the part of the Catholic League representatives to join," Cashman said.

Pawlowski said the Catholic League principals will make a presentation regarding PIAA membership to the league's athletics directors within the next two months.

"I think the ADs will get from the presentation what I got from the meeting -- that going into the PIAA would allow us to keep what we have as a league and gain a benefit, that chance to compete for state titles in different enrollment classifications," Pawlowski said. "I'm sure a lot of our kids' parents would like to see that happen."

LOST WEEKEND

Hundreds of scholastic wrestlers won or lost championships in district tournaments last weekend. But no one quite lost a championship like Willie Weber of Lake-Lehman did in the District 2-AA championships.

Weber took Wilkes-Barre Meyers' unbeaten Carlo Mercandante, a returning champion, into overtime during their 160-pound match.

Neither wrestler secured a winning takedown, sending the match into a 30-second rideout portion, during which the bottom wrestler has that time to escape the top wrestler. The top wrestler wins if he maintains control throughout the 30 seconds.

Mercandante held control through 19 seconds, when the two went to the center for a restart. At that point, Weber was penalized twice within a second for false starts.

A wrestler is permitted two warnings for false starts before being penalized. Four seconds later, on another restart, Weber was penalized again, this time giving Mercandante a point and the victory.

NO. 400

Philadelphia Roman Catholic boys basketball coach Dennis Seddon claimed his 400th victory with an 82-55 victory over Archbishop Carroll last week.

Seddon has a 400-96 record in 17 seasons, averaging 23 victories per season. His teams have won nine Catholic League championships, including six in a row ending in 1994. Only once in the 17 seasons has a Roman Catholic team missed the Catholic League playoffs.

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