PIAA to vote tomorrow on shortening football season

Written by Mike White on .

High school football season in Pennsylvania might not run so far into December, starting next year.

The PIAA strategic planning committee met today to discuss and vote on a few items that will move forward to the PIAA Board of Directors meeting tomorrow. One of the committee's recommendations is to shorten football season by a week.

The PIAA will vote on the policy tomorrow. If it doesn't pass, shame on the PIAA.

Pennsylvania high school football runs longer into December than just about any state in the country. This year's championships will be played a week before Christmas. To me, and many others, that is ludicrous. But the PIAA has never been able to agree on how to shorten the season, without some district in the state disagreeing.

But shortening the season is way overdue. Under the strategic planning committee's proposal, start dates for practice will remain the same. But beginning next year, the season will shorten by one week at the end. It would be up to individual schools or districts to use one of a few options for shortening the season.

They can either get rid of one scrimmage and keep the same number of regular-season games and playoff games. Or they can keep the two scrimmages, and get rid of a week of district playoffs.

It's amazing the PIAA has taken so long to come up with something to shorthen the season. Actually, the WPIAL has proposed a similar policy in the past to shorten the season, but too many other districts disagreed.

If the new plan passes, the WPIAL would most likely keep a nine-week regular season and four weeks of WPIAL playoffs. But the league will probably get rid of one scrimmage.

You can bet basketball and wrestling coaches are overjoyed with this new proposal.

In other matters, there was a chance the PIAA would vote tomorrow on making football six classifications. The PIAA strategic planning committee examined a number of proposals for six classifications, but did not come up with a recommendation for the PIAA. So, the six classes could be a dead issue. We'll know more tomorrow.


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PIAA again considering 6A for football ...... What WPIAL would look like

Written by Mike White on .

The idea of six classifications for high school football in Pennsylvania will once again be put on the table for consideration.

The PIAA Board of Directors have their annual summer meeting tomorrow. They will discuss and vote on a number of topics. One of the topics that could possibly come to a vote is the establishment of six classifications for football only.

The idea has been kicked around plenty in the past six months and proposals have been made. At its May meeting, the PIAA gave representatives of every district six proposals to consider. A vote on a proposal could come about tomorrow. But even if it passes, the proposal would still have to pass two more votes at future meetings to go into effect for the 2016-17 season.

It seems the proposals that have the most support are the "Super 700" and "Super 800." Under the "Super 700," schools with more than 700 boys in the top three grades would be placed in 6A, and the other five classifications would be divided equally with the remaining schools. Under the "Super 800" proposal, schools with more than 800 boys in the top three grades would be placed in 6A, and the other five classifications would be divided equally with the remaining schools.

Some schools in the eastern part of the state favor the proposals because some districts have a number of large schools. Currently, in Class AAAA, some teams are playing against teams from schools twice their size. The PIAA also says that going to six classes will allow the league to shorten the season by a week. This season, the PIAA title games are not until a week before Christmas. It says here that it's ridiculous to still be playing high school football a week before Christmas.

The WPIAL has gone on record saying it is against six classifications. For starters, the league wonders why six classes for football only, and not other sports that currently have four classes? Also, six classifications would put a kink in the WPIAL football playoffs and their concept of playing all championships in one day at Heinz Field.

No matter if the "Super 700" or "Super 800" would pass, the WPIAL would have only three schools in 6A - Seneca Valley, North Allegheny and Butler. What would the WPIAL do for playoffs with only three schools? But there is an idea that the three 6A schools would play a regular-season schedule in 5A and then break out for their own tournament. McDowell, a 6A located in Erie, could join the WPIAL in football only. That would give the league four teams for a mini 6A tournament.

If you're wondering what WPIAL football would look like if, say, the Super 700 passes, look below. Keep in mind that the PIAA realigns classifications in all sports every two years. These classes are based on enrollment figures from the most-recent realignment, which is good from 2014-16. New enrollment figures are due to the PIAA this fall and those figures will be used to determine classifications for 2016-18.

This is for the "Super 700" proposal. The "Super 800" proposal would change things a little (schools are listed in the order of their enrollment size):

6A (3 schools)

Seneca Valley, North Allegheny, Butler

5A (25 schools)

Hempfield, Norwin, Penn Hills, Central Catholic, Connellsville, Mt. Lebanon, Canon-McMillan, Shaler, Bethel Park, Pine-Richland, Woodland Hills, North Hills, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair, Fox Chapel, Penn-Trafford, Baldwin, Latrobe, Kiski Area, Plum, McKeesport, Moon, Albert Gallatin, Gateway, Franklin Regional.

AAAA (18 schools)

Chartiers Valley, Hampton, Knoch, Mars, Trinity, West Allegheny, Laurel Highlands, Montour, New Castle, Ringgold, Belle Vernon, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin, Uniontown, Ambridge, Greensburg Salem, Blackhawk, Indiana.

AAA (25 schools)

Hopewell, Central Valley, Elizabeth Forward, Yough, Quaker Valley, Deer Lakes, South Fayette, Highlands, Derry, Mount Pleasant, Freeport, McGuffey, Ellwood City, Kittanning, Valley, South Park, Beaver, Southmoreland, Keystone Oaks, West Shamokin, Burrell, Steel Valley, Brownsville, Waynesburg, Mohawk.

AA (25 schools)

Ford City, East Allegheny, Shady Side Academy, Charleroi, Vincentian, South Allegheny, Summit Academy, Washington, Apollo-Ridge, New Brighton, Beaver Falls, Laurel, Burgettstown, Sto-Rox, Freedom, Seton-LaSalle, Carlynton, Avonworth, Riverside, Northgate, Beth-Center, South Side Beaver, Neshannock, Fort Cherry, Wilkinsburg.

A (26 schools)

Frazier, Shenango, Chartiers-Houston, Bentworth, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Aliquippa, Brentwood, Bishop Canevin, Carmichaels, Jeannette, Riverview, Serra, California, Leechburg, Springdale, Jefferson-Morgan, West Greene, Greensburg Central Catholic, Rochester, Clairton, Western Beaver, Monessen, Union, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, Mapletown, Avella.

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Joe Moore camp: OLinemen only, please ....... some coaching moves in WPIAL

Written by Mike White on .

Items that fell off my laptop

Imagine a football camp for high school kids who want to be offensive linemen. And imagine that camp being run by a Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman, and imagine the camp having a handful of offensive line coaches who are in the NFL right now.

Put all of that together and you have the Joe Moore O-Line Camp.

The camp is named after Joe Moore, the legendary offensive line coach who spent a number of years at Pitt and Notre Dame, among other places. Moore passed away 12 years ago, but his legend lives on through this camp.

The camp is Saturday and Sunday at West Allegheny High School and is still taking players. Those interested can register at West Allegheny Saturday morning from 8 to 8:45.

The director of the camp is Russ Grimm, former Pitt offensive linemen who is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Working the camp this year are line coaches Andy Heck of the Kansas City Chiefs, Pat Flaherty of the New York Giants, Juan Castillo of the Baltimore Ravens and Mike Munchak of the Steelers.

Tom Clements, associated head coach of the Green Bay Packers, also is part of the staff, as well as some former NFL linemen, including Bill Fralic. Thomas Jefferson High School coach Bill Cherpak and West Allegheny coach Bob Palko also are part of the staff.

Moore's son, James, helps run the camp administratively. For more information, call 412-818-2862 or 412-965-4842.

Coaching tidbits

***** I found it quite interesting that Joe Salvino was named Monessen's football coach Tuesday night. He alsoJoe Salvino has been the Greyhounds' basketball coach for 31 seasons and won five WPIAL titles and two PIAA championships. Good for Salvino (pictured to the right). He's 64 and feeling like he can still make a difference at his alma mater. If he thinks he can coach both sports, go for it. Hey, the guy has come back from a stroke 10 years ago and cancer two years ago. So don't underestimate him or sell him short.

But while Salvino added another coaching hat, I found it interesting that Dan Marshall has taken away one of his hats. Marshall has been the offensive coordinator of the perennial power West Allegheny football team. But he also has been West Allegheny's head boys basketball coach for one season.

Marshall has decided to give up football coaching.

Why? Just because he believes he needs to put all of his efforts in making the basketball program successful. He said the basketball program needs more of his team than he realized and he is the head coach. His assistant for basketball is Andy Barry. But "Dandy" Andy, a legendary defensive back at Westminster during his college days, also will continue to be an assistant in football. Mark Davis, who was at one time the offensive coordinator for West Allegheny football, will go back to his old position.

But while Marshall decides to stick with one sport, West Allegheny's football defensive coordinator is in the PIAA baseball quarterfinals today. Bryan Cornell has been highly successful as West Allegheny's baseball coach and the Indians play Donegal today in a Class AAA game. (Pictured, from left to right, are Cornell, Marshall and football head coach Bob Palko).

**** Also on the coaching front, Don Holl will be New Castle's offensive coordinator next season. Holl was Seneca Valley's head coach before resigning after last season. He did some impressive things on offense during some of his years at Seneca Valley and it will be interesting to see what he does at New Castle.

Speaking of New Castle football, I have never seen freshman Marcus Hooker play a football game. Just a few highlights. But after watching him play basketball twice in the past two weeks, there is no doubt he is a future Division I football prospect.

He's built so much like his oldest brother, Malik, who is a freshman defensive back at Ohio State. Great body on Marcus and impressive athleticism.

**** And lastly with coaching news, East Allegheny hired a new boys basketball coach who has two WPIAL titles to his credit. Pete Logan was recently named the Wildcats' coach. He previously coached at Brownsville, Clairton and Ringgold, and won WPIAL titles at Clairton and Brownsville.

Carter to prep school

Ambridge senior basketball player Daylon Carter, a member of the Post-Gazette Fabulous 5 this year, has decided to attend Cushing Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts.

Don't forget Sansone

Earlier this week, I mentioned some former WPIAL baseball players who will be in the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend. It's baseball version of the Sweet 16. I forgot about Florida State's John Sansone.

Sansone is former standout at Neshannock High School who starts at second base for Florida State. While his high school alma mater is trying to make it to the PIAA championship game (Neshannock plays in the quarterfinals today), Sansone will try to help the Seminoles make the College World Series.

Sansone, a junior, has started all 63 games that Florida State has played. He is batting .250 with 15 doubles, eight home runs and 38 RBIs.

McKay gets big award

One last item on former WPIAL players on the NCAA college baseball level. Former Blackhawk star Brendan McKay, now at the University of Louisville, got a big honor. He was named by Collegiate Baseball as the co-National Freshman of the Year.


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Former NA player Sell national player of year ..... WPIAL players in Super Regionals

Written by Mike White on .

Western Pennsylvania is home to the top NCAA Division II college baseball player in the country.

Nick Sell, a senior third baseman at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, has won the Tino Martinez Award, given annually to the top player in NCAA Division II. The award is named after Martinez, a former Major League Baseball player who was a standout at the University of Tampa, a Division II college in Florida. In fact, according to Seton Hill, Martinez called Sell to tell him he won the award.

Sell (pictured, courtesy of Seton Hill athletics) is a graduate of North Allegheny High School who had a tremendous career at Seton Hill. He had a monster senior season when he led the country (Division II) in RBIs with 92 and was second in home runs with 28. He batted .444 and added 18 doubles, four triples and 10 stolen bases. Sell set Seton Hill career records for hits, home runs, doubles and RBIs.

Sell also was named a first-team All-American by three organizations.

A natural question about Sell might be what is his status for the Major League Baseball draft? Well, it's hard to say. This may say something, though: Baseball America ranks the top 500 prospects, high school and college, for the draft. Sell is not one of them.

WPIAL and the Super Regionals

The NCAA Super Regionals are this weekend. It is Division I baseball's version of the Sweet 16, and there are at least three former WPIAL players in the regional. Two of them play prominent roles for their teams - Louisville's Brendan McKay (Blackhawk High School graduate) and Virginia Commonwealth's Daane Berezo (Pine-Richland). Both are freshman, although Berezo is a redshirt freshman.

McKay and Louisville will play host to Cal State Fullerton, while Berezo and VCU will play at Miami. The winners of the Brendan McKaybest-of-three series advance to the College World Series.

McKay has been one of the top freshmen - and overall players - in the country as a freshman. He has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the top player overall. He also has been named one of 10 finalists for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. McKay is a pitcher and first baseman.

McKay pitched one game for Louisville in the NCAA regional last weekend. He worked 7 1/3 innings, but did not get a decision. For the season, he is 8-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings. As a hitter, he has a .315 average with three home runs and 32 RBIs.

Daane BerezoBerezo has made an impact on a VCU team that has made it to the Super Regionals for the first time in school history. He has started 46 games at second base for VCU and in a game against Dallas Baptist at last weekend's regionals, Berezo was 3 for 5 with one RBI.

He did not have a hit the rest of the regional, but is still batting .292 with 15 RBIs.

Berezo's brother, Matt, also played at Pine-Richland and finished his college career last season at Duke.

But let's not forget one other WPIAL player at VCU. He was forgotten in earlier blog. Sean Thompson is a freshman from Indiana who was the winning pitcher in the final game in the regional, a 3-1 victory over Dallas Baptist. Thompson pitched 5 1/3 and gave up only one run and three hits. He has a 6-3 record.

Another former WPIAL player had a nice showing in a regional last weekend. It was sort of a surprise showing. Zack Bahm, a graduate of Mt. Lebanon, is a freshman at Columbia of the Ivy League. He hadn't pitched in a game since April 15, but came on against heralded Miami Sunday night and pitched three scoreless innings in a 3-0 Columbia victory. Bahm did not give up a hit in those three innings. Columbia's season ended the next day with a loss to Miami.

For the season, Bahm was 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA. He made eight appearances, pitching 13 2/3 innings.

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WPIAL AAA baseball final might start earlier

Written by Mike White on .

Anyone planning to go to the second game tonight of a WPIAL baseball championship doubleheader, get there earlier than planned.

The WPIAL had set game times tonight at Consol Energy Park of 5 p.m. for the Class AAAA championship (Norwin vs. Central Catholic) and 8 p.m. for the Class AAA game (West Allegheny vs. Knoch). But the WPIAL decided this morning that, because of the chance of thunderstorms later tonight, the second game will start a half hour after the conclusion of the medal ceremony for the first game.

This could mean the second game could start possibly by 7:30. The WPIAL had a championship doubleheader last night at the same times and the first game (Neshannock vs. Quaker Valley) was over by 6:20. After the awards ceremony, if there was a half hour wait, the second game could have started possibly around 7:15. But the WPIAL stayed with the 8 p.m. start.

"The weather is calling for some bad weather possibly after 10 o clock tonight," said WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. "So we thought why wait around. It might not be a major difference, depending on how the first game goes."

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