After some "R&R" the tank has been refueled and it's that time again. The official start of high school football practice is Monday, but it really starts tomorrow when most teams start "heat acclimatization" practices. Three are mandatory under PIAA rules and most teams are practicing (in shoulder pads and helmets) tomorrow, Thursday and Friday.
Here are a few items that fell off the laptop today.
Root Sports goes to Fridays
Root Sports TV has decided to scrap its Thursday night football package and will instead televise games on Fridays.
The station did this one other time, televising games on Fridays only, but returned to Thursday nights a few years ago. This year, Root will go back to just Friday games, and the majority of them will be live, with only a few on tape after Pirates and Penguins games. The station will televise seven regular-season games, three playoff games and the four WPIAL title games Nov. 21. However, the Penguins also have a game Nov. 21, which means that two of the WPIAL title games will probably be aired on tape.
But there is another new twist to the Root high school games this season. The station is using a "flex" schedule. That means they will decide what game to televise only a week ahead of time, with the exception of the first televised game Sept. 5 with Pine-Richland playing at North Allegheny.
In the past, Root selected what games to televise before the season started. The station tried to pick big games, but it's hard to pick a season's worth of top games before the season starts. With "flex" scheduling, Root can spot the big games on a weekly basis.
PIAA rules against Redman
It doesn't happen all that often. But the PIAA has upheld the WPIAL in a case involving an athlete.
The PIAA refused to grant Central Catholic standout running back Riley Redman a waiver to the age rule and he will not be allowed to play this season because he is too old. Redman turned 19 in June. Under PIAA rules, a student is ineligible to play sports if he turns 19 before July 1 of his senior year.
The WPIAL ruled against Redman a few weeks ago. Under PIAA rules, an age waiver can be granted under some extenuating circumstances. But both the WPIAL and PIAA said Redman didn't meet the criteria. Central Catholic will still be strong without Redman, but don't think for a second he wouldn't have been a major factor. Heck, he rushed for 1,136 yards last season on a team that won the WPIAL AAAA championship. He was the "backup" tailback to Luigi Lista-Brinza, but Lista-Brinza missed time with injuries and has since graduated.
Redman and Central Catholic asked for an age waiver partly based on the fact that Redman was born about two months premature. Redman claimed if he would've been born on his due date, he would be eligible. Sorry, but I will hold my tongue and not give an opinion on that. But we are asking high school sports governing bodies to make eligibility decisions based on due dates? And if you have ever seen Redman's body or watched him run, you would know that he certainly is not lacking physically because he was born prematurely. He's 5 feet 10, 190 pounds. Check out the below pictures from the winter when Redman was making waves as an accomplished diver.
Redman and Central also asked for the waiver because he endured a tough childhood, being shuffled off to a number of foster homes. He repeated third grade in elementary school.
Attorney Craig Lee represented Redman in his case. He represents many student-athletes from the WPIAL who have eligibility cases with the WPIAL and PIAA.
For the PIAA and WPIAL to make Redman eligible, they would have had to ignore their own by-laws. The bottom line is Redman is over the age limit. Sure, the PIAA and WPIAL have granted age waivers before, but it is rare and the PIAA and WPIAL obviously felt Redman didn't meet any of the criteria that would grant him a waiver to the age rule.
I don't know Redman. From everything I have heard, he seems to be a fine young man who has overcome some difficulties in his life. Good for him, but that doesn't mean he should be allowed to play if he is too old. There are reasons why there are age limits in high school athletics. This is another example of some people thinking that playing high school sports is a right. It's not. It's a privilege. And if you don't meet certain guidelines, you don't play. It's not as if Redman was denied from ever playing. He was on a WPIAL championship team a year ago and has plenty of film to show college coaches if he wants to play past high school.
If the WPIAL or PIAA ruled Redman eligible, think of what might happen with others coming up with stories on how they want extra eligibility. I've also heard that Redman should be eligible because he misses the cutoff by a few days. Well then, what if someone misses the cutoff by only a few weeks. Or then a month. There has to be a cutoff somewhere.I've heard some cries that not allowing Redman to play is insensitive by the WPIAL and PIAA and not fair. Please. I have nothing at all against Redman. But not fair? When Redman rushed for 200 yards in a game this season, led Central Catholic to a win and ran over a 160-pound sophomore defensive back, ask that opponent "is it fair?"
South Fayette ranks
MaxPreps.com has national football rankings for smalll schools, medium schools and large schools. South Fayette is ranked No. 20 in the "medium school" rankings.
South Fayette plays in Class AA and the "medium school" rankings are for schools with enrollments between 1,000 and 2,000. South Fayette was 16-0 last season and won WPIAL and PIAA titles.