Erie McDowell will play WPIAL football for real next year.
McDowell has been granted a release from District 10 for football only. That paves the way for McDowell to join the WPIAL, starting in the 2010 season.
McDowell has wanted to join the WPIAL in football for a while. For the past four seasons, McDowell has played a WPIAL Class AAAA conference schedule in the Northern Six Conference or Foothills Conference. But District 10 never released McDowell, so the Trojans were ineligible for the WPIAL playoffs. Instead, they played in the District 10 playoffs.
But starting next season, McDowell can compete in the WPIAL playoffs.
"We were surprised [District 10] let them out," said WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley. "Our board has been reluctant to take them in fully in the past, because we just didn't think it was advantageous for us at the time."
The addition of McDowell gives the WPIAL 128 schools for next year.
"Without them, we would've had an odd number, and an odd number is never good for scheduling," O'Malley said.
McDowell will be the 27th team in Class AAAA.
Altoona and Hollidaysburg are two other teams that will be new to the WPIAL next season -- for football only. Altoona will play in Class AAAA and Hollidaysburg in AAA.
"This is a two-year deal, so I'm sure [McDowell] will re-evaluate after then, and so will we," O'Malley said.