By Mike White | Thursday, Dec. 3, 7:55 p.m.
WPIAL football will have three new teams next season. We already knew about two of them, but the third popped in just this week.
Erie McDowell will be a WPIAL school for the next two years - but for football only. For the past four seasons, McDowell had played a WPIAL Northern Six Conference or Foothills Conference schedule. However, McDowell was ineligible to compete in the WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. When the playoffs came around, McDowell had to play in District 10 (the WPIAL is District 7).
District 10 would not release McDowell until this week. The WPIAL has already voted to accept McDowell. WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley said he was a little surprised District 10 granted McDowell a release. One of the reasons McDowell wanted out of District 10 is because McDowell would be one of only two Class AAAA teams in District 10 next season. The other would be Erie Strong Vincent.
Erie Cathedral Prep decided this week that it will continue to play in Class AAA and not "up" in AAAA.
"I think what drove the sled was Erie Prep deciding to stay in Class AAA," O'Malley said.
The other two new additions to WPIAL football next year are Altoona and Hollidaysburg. A reminder, though, that all three schools will play in the WPIAL for football only. Altoona will be in Class AAAA and Hollidaysburg in AAA.
O'Malley said one of the reasons McDowell is welcomed is because it will give the WPIAL an even number of teams (128) next year. Having an even number of teams makes for easier scheduling.
Here is what I believe will be the new conferences next year:
BIG EAST CONFERENCE - Woodland Hills, Central Catholic, Penn Hills, Plum, Kiski Area, Fox Chapel, Altoona.
FOOTHILLS - Gateway, McKeesport, Latrobe, Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Hempfield, Connellsville.
GREAT SOUTHERN - Bethel Park, Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Baldwin, Peters Township, Canon-McMillan
NORTHERN SIX - (The name might have to change since there are will be seven teams) North Allegheny, Shaler, Seneca Valley, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Butler and Erie McDowell.