This is the first fall season of City League teams competing in the WPIAL in some sports. Although wins have been hard to come by for most of the City League teams in their new league, there is no looking back.
"We may not be at the point where we would like to be at the team level, but we do have some individuals who have competed well and we'll continue to try and grow," said Mike Gavlik, director of City League athletics. "I haven't polled everyone and asked if they like being in the WPIAL, but I haven't had any negative feedback. I think everyone understood the situation was needed."
Four City League schools -- Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick and Obama (which is actually a co-op program along with University Prep and Science & Technology) -- are playing in the WPIAL in 11 sports throughout the school year, but not football or basketball.
This fall, all four of those City League teams are playing in the WPIAL in boys and girls soccer. Allderdice also is competing in the WPIAL in boys golf, and boys and girls cross country.
The Allderdice boys soccer team has been the most competitive of any City team in the WPIAL. Allderdice (4-7-2, 3-5-2) was in fourth place in Class AAA Section 3 as of midweek. The top three teams make the playoffs, so the Dragons could still qualify for the postseason.
The other three City teams in boys soccer had a combined record of 7-31 after the Tuesday night games. Obama (2-13, 2-9) was sixth in a seven-team section. Carrick (1-10, 0-9) and Brashear (4-8, 1-8) were in last in their sections.
The City League girls teams of Allderdice, Brashear, Obama and Carrick had a combined record of 5-38 by the middle of this week. All four were in last place or second-to-last place.
But a few athletes from Allderdice have been very competitive against WPIAL competition in individual sports. In golf, Sasha Lobel finished fifth at the WPIAL Class AAA Section 6 championship when he shot 79 at Youghiogheny Country Club. At a Class AAA semifinal at Seven Oaks Country Club, Lobel shot an 81 and missed qualifying for the WPIAL championship tournament by one stroke. Teammate Max Kennedy also made it out of the section tournament and qualified for the WPIAL semifinals.
Allderdice's Hannah Famili and Becca Brown won two matches and made it to the semifinals of the Class AAA Section 4 doubles tennis tournament. Famili and Brown defeated teams from Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny.
Also, Allderdice senior Ean DiSilvio is a runner to watch at the WPIAL cross-country championships later this month.
The City League is down to six teams and not all of the schools were competing in all sports in the past. Overall, Allderdice is in the WPIAL in 11 sports -- boys and girls soccer, boys and girls swimming, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls cross country, baseball, golf and softball.
Brashear and Carrick are in the WPIAL in baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer.
Obama is in the WPIAL in boys and girls soccer, and boys and girls swimming.
The PIAA and WPIAL realign every two years. It will be interesting to see if the City League joins the WPIAL in all sports when the PIAA and WPIAL realign for the 2014-15 school year.
"There haven't seen a lot of W's," Gavlik said. "But our teams have been given the opportunity to see where they are as a program and where they have to go in the future.
" I think it really all comes down to what would our schedules have looked like in some sports [in the City League] where we had only four schools playing."
Judging strictly by points, Aliquippa has been the most dominant football team in the WPIAL this season -- offensively and defensively.
Aliquippa (5-0) is the No. 1 scoring team in the league (52.4 points a game). The Quips also are No. 1 on defense (1.4 points a game). The other top offensive teams are South Fayette (50.4), Gateway (49.0) and Clairton (48.6). The other top defensive teams are Beth-Center (2.4), South Fayette (4.8) and North Allegheny (5.4).
Isiah Neely, a senior running back at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, surpassed 3,000 career yards earlier this season, but he won't have a chance to get to 4,000. Neely sustained a broken leg a few weeks ago and had season-ending surgery.
Avella and Neshannock have been the big turnaround stories in WPIAL football, but South Allegheny is enjoying one of its best seasons in a long time.
Coach Pat Monroe has guided South Allegheny to a 4-1 record, the best start at the school since 1986. That year, the Gladiators started 4-1, then tied Bishop Canevin in the sixth game before making the WPIAL playoffs and finishing 9-2-1.
South Allegheny could go to 5-1 with a victory tonight against McGuffey (2-3). The last time South Allegheny made the playoffs was '86. Since South Allegheny opened in '66 as a merger of Glassport and Port Vue-Liberty, the Gladiators have made the postseason only three times. The other two times were '76 and '77, winning the WPIAL Class AA title in the latter.
Seneca Valley football coach Don Holl started coaching games from the press box in the third game this season. It is an unusual move because most head coaches are on the sideline during games. But Holl isn't the only WPIAL head coach in the press box for games. Kittanning's Frank Fabian also is coaching from the press box. He did the same thing for most games when he was Redbank Valley's coach the past two seasons.
The Post-Gazette's Varsity Xtra section last week highlighted WPIAL athletes who are playing multiple sports in the same season. But there is at least one more in the WPIAL playing three sports this fall.
Bailey Burgess, a sophomore at Bishop Canevin, is somehow finding enough time to compete in soccer, tennis and cross country for the Crusaders.
Burgess is the No. 1 player on the tennis team and plays fullback in soccer. She also is one of the top runners in cross country, finishing 33rd at the WPIAL Class AA championships last year. In a recent 24-hour period, she scored a winning goal, finished third at a cross-country meet and won a singles tennis match.