WPIAL Changes for Fall Sports

STEVE ROTSTEIN AND MIKE WHITE, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2020

The WPIAL has decided to push back the start of football season to Sept. 10 and also delay the start of a few other fall sports.

The move was made because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic and comes after the PIAA voted Wednesday to allow schools around the state to delay the start of fall sports. The WPIAL board of directors approved the change at a meeting Thursday, and the league released the new plan for fall sports Friday.

WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said the league had to act fast to come up with a new plan to allow its schools the flexibility to play out their seasons, even if the PIAA decides to shorten the fall sports season to end on Thanksgiving weekend at its next board meeting Aug. 26.

“Especially with the uncertainty of school starting, the last thing we would want to do is throw an entire season change on schools for football,” Scheuneman said. “We thought this gave our schools the best opportunity to plan in advance and prepare in advance and just be clear in communication with what we anticipate to happen.”

The start dates for competitions will remain the same in girls tennis and boys and girls golf. But the start of football, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, field hockey and boys and girls cross country has been pushed back. The maximum number of contests also has been changed for all fall sports.

Football teams were supposed to start heat acclimatization practices Aug. 10 and official practices Aug. 17. Games were permitted to start Aug. 28. Under the new plan, heat practices and official practices will begin as scheduled, but the start of games has been pushed back. The changes are:

  • Week Zero games (Aug. 28-29) are canceled and scrimmages will not be allowed before Sept. 3.
  • Games scheduled by the WPIAL for Sept. 4-5 will now be scrimmages.
  • Games scheduled for the final week of the regular season (Oct. 30-31) will now be played Sept. 10-11-12.
  • The regular season will end Oct. 23, and the maximum number of regular season games is seven.

The WPIAL has not yet decided on a playoff format because the league must wait to see if the PIAA shortens the fall season. If there are state playoffs, there will be a three-week WPIAL postseason with eight teams per classification, and championships will be held Nov. 13 and 14. If there are no state playoffs, the WPIAL playoffs will be a two-week tournament and will have only four teams per classification, with championships played Nov. 6 and 7.

Whether or not there is a state football tournament, Scheuneman said the WPIAL wants to do everything it can to ensure WPIAL champions are crowned.

“I think we’ve laid out a framework that will help to allow that to happen,” Scheuneman said.

Here are the newly approved plans for all other WPIAL fall sports:

Girls volleyball: Practices start Aug. 17, and the first matches are Sept. 14. The maximum number of regular season matches is 16. The WPIAL and PIAA playoff formats will be determined at a later date.

Girls tennis: The regular season will go on as scheduled with practices starting Aug. 17 and the first matches Aug. 24. The maximum number of regular season matches is 14. The WPIAL tournament is on as scheduled, but the format of the PIAA playoffs has yet to be determined.

Boys and girls golf: The regular season will go on as scheduled with practices starting Aug. 17 and the first matches Aug. 24. The maximum number of competitions is 14. The WPIAL individual and team tournaments are on as scheduled, but the PIAA tournament is yet to be determined.

Boys and girls soccer: The first practice date is Aug. 17, and the start of games has been pushed back to Sept. 14. The maximum number of competitions is 16. The formats for the WPIAL and PIAA tournaments have yet to be determined.

Field hockey: Practices start Aug. 17, and the first competition has been pushed back to Sept. 14. The new maximum number of competitions is 14. The formats for the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs have yet to be determined.

Boys and girls cross country: Practice starts Aug. 17, and the first competition has been pushed back to Sept. 14. The WPIAL championships will be modified to comply with state regulations as well as PIAA “return to play” guidelines.

Correction: The start dates for some sports were different and the maximum number of contests were different in an earlier version of this story.

Steve Rotstein: srotstein@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SteveRotstein. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.