Looking at the PIAA playoff brackets, I can't help but to paraphrase the late President Ronald Reagan: "Weahl, there you go again."
In the semifinals this weekend, in Class AAA, Archbishop Wood takes on Allentown Central Catholic while Bishop McDevitt takes on, well, surprisingly, Montour. In Class AA, the top bracket gives us Lancaster Catholic versus West (Philadelphia) Catholic while a pair of public schools (Tyrone and Aliquippa) square off for the right to meet the winner of the two Catholic schools.
Classes A and AAAA somehow managed to qualify mostly public schools, the exception being La Salle College in AAAA. And last week, Southern Columbia had to get by Pius X to get to the semis.
The subject of what to do about this situation is more controversial than a school superintendent's pay raise. When all three Valley teams had to play Catholic schools in last week's state quarterfinal round, you could hear at the games, on the streets and in stores and restaurants that the natives were getting restless.
It didn't make things any easier when, on Friday night, Allentown Central blasted the red-hot Indians, with their South Carolina University-bound quarterback, Brendon Nosovitch, leading the Vikings to a 35-0 first-quarter lead. The final could have been whatever ACC wanted, but it ended at 56-14. Then on Saturday, although the game was closer than the score indicated, Mount Carmel fell 21-0 to Lancaster Catholic.
Several suggestions as to how to remedy the situation have been bandied about, and I have proposed one or two in this column over the years. But PIAA officials continue to contend that any of those plans would threaten the agency with a lawsuit.
Yet, it boggles the mind why, if a private school entitled to legally accept athletes from numerous school districts is not required to play up in classification, then why do some small public schools have to do so because they have brought in a handful of students from a neighboring district which does not offer their sport. For example, if Newport takes in just one football player from neighboring Greenwood (which does not have football), it must count the male enrollment (grades 9-11) of both schools in determining its classification. Therefore, tiny Newport is a Class AA football team. It works that way in other sports, too. Upper Dauphin must compete in Class AAA in track and field because it allows some Line Mountain (where track is not offered) athletes to join the team. That makes it nearly impossible for anyone, boys or girls, to meet the qualifying standards to get a spot in the state championship meet. Look at that team, and look at the AAA teams in Shippensburg. Tell me with a straight face that they are anywhere close to being equal.