Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Expansion Has Lopsided Conferences

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Expansion Has Lopsided Conferences

Article excerpt

The following is the conclusion of a series of reports looking at the WPIAL's realignment for the 2016-17 school year. This week's focus: football.

Highlands coach Sam Albert always laughs when his team plays a road game far away because the only people in the stands are parents. North Hills coach Pat Carey has heard some of the older fans in his community lament the loss of teams like North Allegheny and Seneca Valley from the schedule. But now, teams such as Albert's and Carey's have to form some new connections with schools they don't usually think about - and vice versa.

"When the opposing team says, 'Where is Highlands?' - it's not much of a rivalry," Albert said with a chuckle.

It's a long way from New Castle, Blackhawk and South Fayette, all of which will be section opponents for the Rams. But none of this affects only Highlands or North Hills or even WPIAL football as a whole. When the PIAA voted last year to have six classifications many schools braced for sweeping changes.

Not surprising, football drew most of the attention. No more North Allegheny-North Hills? No more Penn Hills-Woodland Hills? And, perhaps the biggest question, what does this mean for the WPIAL championships?

That last question was answered in April, with the WPIAL electing to play the 1A and 2A finals at Robert Morris' Joe Walton Stadium, but this season will teach us much more about what Western Pennsylvania football will now look like with new classifications and new conferences.

"We can't control that at all, so what we're worried about is the schedule that we have," said Carey, whose North Hills team moved down to 5A. "I think a lot of these new rivalries, with time, you'll see that these rivalries are just as strong as some of those others."

For what he could control, Carey made sure North Hills would keep at least one former northern rival on its schedule: The Indians will open the season against 6A foe Shaler. …

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