South Fayette weighs move to Class AAA football

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South Fayette is considering whether a good game is more important than a big win.

School board members discussed Tuesday the possibility of upgrading the high school football team's classification next year to foster better competition.

Board member Len Fornella said the team should move up from PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) Class AA to Class AAA for the 2014-15 school year.

"I don't think our kids are being challenged," he said. "I don't think they're learning anything if they're beating teams by 40, 50, 60 [points]."

The South Fayette Lions football team is undefeated so far this season in eight games. The team's winning margin has ranged from 27 points to 67 points.

Among nearby schools in the AAA classification are Montour, Moon and West Allegheny.

Superintendent Bille Rondinelli said the district must discuss the reclassification proposal with the athletic director and coaching staff.

Football classification hinges on the number of male students enrolled in grades 9, 10 and 11, although districts can voluntarily upgrade to a higher class, Mr. Fornella said. If the boys' enrollment reaches 300, the PIAA automatically will move South Fayette into Class AAA with the next realignment.

Classifications are adjusted every two years.

When the current classes were determined in 2011, South Fayette had 294 boys -- five students short of the AAA cutoff, according to the PIAA website.

"Even if we're a couple kids off when they do classifications next year, we ought to request AAA," Mr. Fornella said.

Board member Frank Morelli said it's "inevitable" that South Fayette will be bumped to AAA because of its growing student enrollment, but the district should move up sooner rather than later.

"You could have two more prosperous years in AA, but is that really developing the program to the next level?" he said.

Board President Bill Newcomer suggested that the lack of competition has led to fewer fans at games. "I've heard a number of people tell me that they're not going to the games as often now," he said.

Board member Paul Brinksy said the district should check with WPIAL about how a reclassification would affect logistics such as conference availability and travel. The WPIAL is the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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