The West Shamokin football team was one of the feel-good stories of this past high school football season, making the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in school history. But, if West Shamokin is to duplicate the playoff feat, it will have to do it in a larger classification.
West Shamokin will be in Class AA next season, based on its school enrollment. The Wolves made the playoffs this year in Class A.
The PIAA realigns classifications for all sports every two years. The classifications are based on enrollments for boys and girls currently in grades 9 through 11. The PIAA released enrollment figures Monday for all schools in the state, and teams in the WPIAL learned their classifications for the next two school years.
While West Shamokin's move to Class AA was one of the notable changes, the WPIAL Board of Control also met Monday and decided not to allow Westinghouse or McDowell admission to the league for football only. Westinghouse had wanted to leave the City League and McDowell District 10 for football. The reason for the WPIAL decision was the league didn't need Westinghouse or McDowell. For the next two football seasons, there are an even number of schools in WPIAL Class AAAA and AAA (52) and also Class AA and A (72).
"We can give every school in the WPIAL a nine-game schedule because we have an even number of teams, and what drives this league is to provide our schools nine games," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said. "With an odd number of teams, we can't provide a nine-game schedule to everyone. We would've then looked at [Westinghouse and McDowell]."
In another notable change, the Sto-Rox football team will move up to Class AA. The Vikings were a Class A finalist the past three years, and coach Dan Bradley was shocked to hear the news. He thinks there might have been a mistake made in enrollment numbers submitted by Sto-Rox. But, even if there was a mistake, Sto-Rox is out of luck. The PIAA had a November deadline to fix such mistakes.
Some other notable changes in the WPIAL starting with the 2014-15 school year:
* In football, Gateway drops from Class AAAA to AAA, Highlands from Class AAA to AA and Jeannette and Greensburg Central Catholic from Class AA to Class A.
* In boys basketball, New Castle and Hampton will drop from Class AAAA to AAA, Chartiers Valley goes up from AAA to AAAA, Lincoln Park moves from A to AA and Beaver Falls elects to play "up" in AAA. Even though Beaver Falls' enrollment is Class AA, teams can play "up" if they choose.
* In girls basketball, Chartiers Valley moves down from AAAA to AAA, Jeannette moves down from AA to A and West Allegheny moves up from AAA to AAAA.
* In baseball, Beaver moves to AAA. Beaver won the WPIAL Class AA title in the spring.
For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.