The WPIAL has delayed the start date for most fall sports.
The WPIAL notified school administrators Friday that football season won’t start until Sept. 10, the regular season will be reduced to seven games and the playoffs might look different. Season openers for cross country, soccer, field hockey and girls volleyball were delayed until Sept. 14.
Only golf and girls tennis can start sooner, on Aug. 24.
Indiana, Apollo-Ridge and Ligonier Valley, which is playing its first year in the WPIAL this year, are the local schools affected by the decision.
The WPIAL was concerned for schools trying to balance a sports season with starting classes under COVID-19 conditions.
The original schedule had Week Zero football games Aug. 28. Now, WPIAL football teams won’t play until after Labor Day.
In the meantime, teams can practice. Heat acclimatization for football begins Aug. 10, as originally scheduled. Likewise, all fall sports are allowed to start practice Aug. 17.
The WPIAL also reduced the maximum number of regular-season contests for each sport.
Soccer teams can play 16 regular-season games. Tennis, golf, volleyball and field hockey are limited to 14. Cross country teams can have 12 meets.
Football teams are allowed to schedule their scrimmage Sept. 3-5, which was Week 1 on the old schedule. The first play date for regular-season games is a Thursday, Sept. 10.
Most teams may start that Friday instead, but the WPIAL was anticipating some Thursday games to alleviate a shortage of officials.
Under the traditional start dates, golf would have opened competition Aug. 20, tennis Aug. 24, football Aug. 28 and the remaining fall sports Sept. 4. Instead, the PIAA offered districts a “hybrid” option this week, letting the WPIAL start one or multiple sports later.
To delay football season, the board decided to eliminate matchups from Weeks Zero, 1 and 2. There were no conference games scheduled in those weeks.
However, the WPIAL also needed to end the regular season a week early, in case the PIAA moves the state championships to Thanksgiving weekend, as expected. To do that, the WPIAL moved Week 9 games (Oct. 30) to the opening week in the new schedule. Teams then play opponents from Weeks 3-8 as originally scheduled.
The WPIAL also revealed two football playoff formats, one if there are state playoffs and another if they are canceled by the PIAA.
If there are state playoffs: The WPIAL will have a four-team bracket in Class 6A, with the finals Nov. 6 or 7. Class 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A and A will have eight-team brackets with finals Nov. 13 or 14.
If there are no state playoffs: The WPIAL will have only a two-round tournament and four qualifiers from each classification. The finals would be Nov. 6.