With the dust settled for another two years in regards to realignment, the WPIAL released its 2020 football schedules on Thursday with a few noticeable changes.
Rather than randomly assigning non-conference opponents, the WPIAL chose games in an effort to cut down on travel time and keep games more competitive.
The nonconference games are also pushed toward the front of schedule, leaving mostly conference matchups for all teams later in the season.
Here’s a quick look at a few major storylines, at least that jump out while looking at games on a computer screen in January
Pine-Richland’s non-conference schedule
The Cole-Spencer senior-season spectacular will have quite the opening act before the Rams begin conference play on October 2nd against Penn Hills.
Pine-Richland opens the season home against Seneca Valley, before traveling to Central Catholic in a WPIAL championship game rematch and Upper St. Clair before finally coming home against Gateway on September 25.
The combined records for those five teams last season was 45-19.
Derrick Davis’ senior season
Fans all over the WPIAL will have their chance to see the area’s most highly recruited player in Gateway’s Derrick Davis.
Gateway will be in the South Hills on September 4 against Thomas Jefferson (really great game), and in the North Hills on September 25 against Pine-Richland (another really great game) and even half-way to Johnstown for a game against Latrobe.
It’s not often a player like this comes around, and with the talent surrounding him, Gateway should be playing in front of a lot of large crowds this season.
North Allegheny takes two open weeks
An odd number of WPIAL teams leaves an open game each week, and the Tigers elected to take two of those open games to start the season.
This will allow them to schedule non-WPIAL teams, which can lead to some interesting games.
Last season, the WPIAL vs. Everyone showcase at Woodland Hills and North Allegheny brought in teams from D.C. and Maryland while Gateway traveled to Massillon, Ohio in a late-season matchup.
I was able to cover Pine-Richland’s game a few years ago against IMG Academy and saw a few of the best players in the country.
If North Allegheny schedules a home game in either week, it will be worth the trip out to Wexford.
Again, it’s January, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun and do some predicting as far as best conferences go.
Class 1A, Section 1
Sign me up for a conference that includes Clairton, Greensburg Central Catholic, Imani Christian and Jeannette
Class 4A, Section 1
Aliquippa, Blackhawk, Montour and New Castle will lead to some really interesting games late in the season
Class 5A, Section 1
This was, arguably, the most competitive conference in the WPIAL last season, and it may be shaping up that way again. Oh, and by the way, they’ve added South Fayette into the mix.
Can’t-miss games Week One
· Aliquippa vs. Beaver Falls
· Thomas Jefferson vs. Gateway
· Penn Hills vs. Central Catholic
· Sto-Rox vs. Jeannette
Can’t-miss games Week Two
· Central Valley vs. Aliquippa
· Mt. Lebanon vs. Peters Twp
· Clairton vs. Washington
· Central Catholic vs. Pine-Richland