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Written by: John Robbins on Friday, January 24th, 2020
Heinz Field before the 1A WPIAL title game between Clairton and Sto-Rox, who moves up to 2A in the new alignment, on November 16th, 2019.
This offseason the PIAA released their new classifications and the teams that will participate in them. With those changes, the WPIAL came up with two proposals to form conferences. Proposal 1 stuck with the status quo, which was all six classifications. Proposal 2 offered combined conferences based on region and rivalries. The WPIAL coaches opted for proposal 1. This is a breakdown of the major moves because of the movements between classifications.
The WPIAL sections/conferences for 3A-6A.
6A – 8 Teams (1 Conference)
The smallest of all six classifications, based on the amount of teams, within the WPIAL 6A was slated to have 9 teams this season. According to Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Butler moved to independent and then moved to District 10 for football. Butler wasn’t the only team to leave 6A going into the 2020-2021 rotation. Pine Richland, the 2019 6A WPIAL runner-ups, dropped down to 5A. Baldwin jumped up from 5A to replace them. The 8 teams were put into one conference.
5A – 18 Teams (3 Conferences)
The 5A level will be gaining some of the most prestigious programs in the last decade as South Fayette moves up from 4A, and as stated previously, Pine Richland will be moving down from 6A. South Fayette lost to Belle Vernon last year in the semifinals and the year before that they beat Thomas Jefferson to win the 4A WPIAL title. That was their fourth WPIAL title since 2010. South Fayette also managed to win back to back 2A state titles in 2013 and 2014. Pine Richland won back to back 6A titles in 2017 and 2018 with a state title in 2017. They also won the 4A WPIAL title in 2014. 5A will be adding a combined 6 WPIAL titles and 3 state titles since 2010. The 18 teams will be divided into equally into 3 conferences of 6 teams.
4A – 22 Teams (3 Conferences)
Along with McKeesport, 4A will be adding three other 5A teams, Plum, Chartiers Valley, and Hampton, and one of the biggest moves of the rotation, Aliquippa. Aliquippa was playing up two classifications to play at the 3A level. The PIAA success factor pushed them up to 4A for the 2020-2021 seasons. The Quips appealed to the PIAA, but according to Chris Harlan of triblive, on January 22nd, Aliquippa dropped their appeal and will be playing at 4A. The Quips lost to Central Valley in the 3A WPIAL title game 13-12 in overtime. That was their 12th straight appearance to WPIAL finals and after they won the 3A WPIAL and state title the year before. The 22 teams will be divided into 3 conferences. Two of them with 8 teams and 1 with 6 teams.
3A – 20 Teams (3 Conferences)
3A loses not just Aliquippa but the Quips longtime rival, Beaver Falls. The Tigers move down to 2A this rotation along with Waynesburg. 3A does gain Southmoreland, Valley, East Allegheny, South Allegheny, Ambridge and the 2019 2A WPIAL champion and state runner-up Avonworth. The only team out of those not from 2A is Ambridge who played in 4A the last two seasons. The 20 teams will play in three conferences. One of sections of 6 teams and the other two with 7 teams.
The sections/conferences for 1A and 2A.
2A – 27 Teams (4 Conferences)
For the second straight realignment, 2A will have the most teams. The two biggest moves were defending 2A WPIAL champion moving to 3A and the 2019 1A WPIAL runner-up, the Sto-Rox Vikings moving into 2A. The Vikings had 130 male students from 9th-11th grade. That put them 1 student over the 129 threshold to stay at the 1A level. Laurel also moves up from 1A for this rotation. The WPIAL ́s only addition, Ligonier Valley, will play at the 2A level. The Rams previously played in the Heritage Conference which is a part of District 6. Ligonier Valley played in the WPIAL then left in 1969. 2A also gains Waynesburg and Beaver Falls from 3A, as stated previously. The 27 teams will be divided into 4 conferences, 2 with 6 teams, 1 with 7 teams, and the final one with 8 teams.
1A – 24 Teams (3 Conferences)
1A remains mostly intact with the movement of Laurel and Sto-Rox to 2A. Fort Cherry, Shenango, and Carmichaels all moving down from 2A. The vaunted 1A Eastern conference, which has produced 3 out of the last 4 1A WPIAL champions, will stay together with the only change being the addition of Bishop Canevin . 1A will be divided into 3 equal conferences of 8 teams.
These classifications, pending a situation like Albert Gallatin who dropped out of the WPIAL mid way through the 2018-19 rotation, will remain until the end of the 2021 season.
4 teams who participated in the 2019 WPIAL finals are changing classes. Sto-Rox (1A to 2A), Aliquippa (3A to 4A), Pine Richland (6A to 5A), and Avonworth (2A to 3A)
1 WPIAL Champion changed classifications. Avonworth.
1 State Champion in the last 2 year rotation is moving classes. Aliquippa (2018).
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