Well now, isn’t this interesting?
After months and even years of a call for change and an increase in the number of classifications, the PIAA responded and added two classes. Everyone stood on their chairs and cheered as if the big crystal ball had fallen on New Year’s Eve.
But, wait, the anticipation of just where the teams fell was overpowering. There was little to no patience like a child who won’t go to sleep on Christmas Eve. This was all too good to be true. Finally, a level playing field.
Then, the parameters came out. That prepared athletic directors in advance of the release of the official classifications for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. Anxiety now overwhelmed some. Knowing just where they lined up caused some tension.
Bam! The classifications are released. Uh-oh! Things didn’t change all that much. It was like seeing a birthday balloon bust at the head table.
Right off the bat, I could see there were going to be issues.
My initial observations:
Scranton Prep and Berwick being in Class 3A with a group of schools which were Class 2A in the past and have no real experience playing those two teams. Their inclusion, considering they played for the District 2 Class AAA title this season, had me circle that classification in yellow highlighter.
Northwest being the only Class 2A school or smaller from the WVC. That sure would make scheduling a problem for that conference.
Delaware Valley and Scranton stayed in the largest classification. Guess what? All the moving a shaking didn’t help those schools in the least.
Wyoming Valley West dropping to Class 5A. Considering the Spartans are a dominant team in the largest classification, their chances certainly increased with the shift to six classifications.
Other than those items, I saw little or nothing that surprised me. But, I knew, nobody could sit still on this one, especially the Class 3A grouping.
So within a couple of weeks after digesting the now REAL possibility that they could some day be facing both Scranton Prep and Berwick on a regular basis, Montrose and Carbondale Area evaluated their status and chose to end their cooperative agreements to sponsor football with Elk Lake and Forest City. In the short term, it is the logical move. Any player who is already involved in the program can complete his eligibility, so it is a win-win for those two programs. They lose the addition enrollment numbers that catapulted them into Class 3A and they keep the players. Not bad.
So, Montrose and Carbondale Area slide down to Class 2A. That put eight teams in that grouping, seven of which are from the Lackawanna Football Conference. Now we got something brewing.
Then Berwick exited, upping its challenges while trying to maintain its rivalries against larger schools from the WVC. Wait a minute, I thought that notion would be tossed in the waste can after we moved to six classifications? No. Interesting.
Following that lead, Northwest Area terminated its agreement with Benton and it tumbles to Class 1A with Holy Cross, Lackawanna Trail and Old Forge.
That should be everything. So, now that the smoke has cleared, here is what District 2 will look like for the next two-year cycle.
* Helmets courtesy of pahelmetproject.com
But what about the Lackawanna Football Conference?
This is totally my opinion and I try not to be too influential, but the way the teams break in the six classifications, I truly believe there is a way to maintain the conference, only with a different alignment. I even think there is a fair way to do the schedule.
First and foremost it will be imperative for the LFC to find a working arrangement with the WVC, which will be in dire need of some assistance among the small schools, in particular Northwest Area. However, being Class 1A, it is going to need to find some games against teams of more similar size moving forward. But in the present, remember, it has a Class AA program that has reached the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
And here is the way I think it might work (Again, just an opinion):
- As you can see, Scranton and Delaware Valley will play all of its other Class 6A teams
- Abington Heights and Wallenpaupack will have games against all of the other Class 5A teams
- Scranton and West Scranton maintains its Battle for the Bell
- Honesdale must play up now as a Class 4A. It may not be too enticing, but the school’s enrollment dictates that it does.
- The Class 4As all maintain equal crossover competition against schools that they presently compete against, so there is no unfair advantage. Also, some Class 4As maintain their rivalry games against Class 2A programs.
- Class 3A Scranton Prep and Western Wayne play an equal schedule based upon their program and will have crossover games against the WVC schools that they are competing against in Class 3A.
- Class 2A and Class 1A combine for a 9-game league schedule. It makes sense, because only Northwest Area is representing the WVC.
- Northwest Area has games against Old Forge and Lackawanna Trail and Holy Cross maintains its series against Holy Redeemer.
What about the WVC?
On the surface, seems like a plan. But in the interest of fairness, I took the liberty of breaking down the WVC and how it can come up with a workable schedule.
It’s not as easy because of the unbalanced number of teams. There are open dates, however, that is common for the WVC. Teams like Hazleton Area and Williamsport are going to need to seek out Class 6A or Class 5A opponents any way. There just aren’t enough.
Also, Berwick has a history of seeking out nonconference opponents. Nanticoke has in the past, as well.
It’s not perfect, but with the help from the LFC, I think I have what looks like a workable schedule. Or at the least a workable format. And it maintains the cherished rivalry games such as Lake-Lehman against Dallas, Berwick and Wyoming Valley West, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area.
For this one, I worked upside down. You understand. And again just an opinion …
- Tunkhannock plays all four Class 4A teams plus Honesdale from the LFC
- Hazleton Area and Williamsport play both Scranton and Delaware Valley
- Northwest Area plays both Old Forge and Lackawanna Trail, and Holy Redeemer gets to keep its game with Holy Cross
- Holy Redeemer does not play Class 3A Dallas, but will play a crossover with Class 3A Western Wayne from the LFC.
OK, I know that is a lot to digest.
And I am sure I made a mistake or two. But there is a lot to consider as the deadlines approach as what District 2 might look like.
Also, just as Don Corleone would seek advice from Tom Hagen, I too sought out help from my high school football consigliere Mike Ognosky. He is the guru of scheduling matrix. He is busy officiating 18 college basketball games a week now, but he glanced at my madness.
Again, this is only a SUGGESTION that I think can work. It’s not ideal. Heck, And I know that the only thing on everybody’s mind is taking the best path to the state playoffs. Also remember that the number of playoff spots, especially from Class 4A down to Class 1A are increased.
All four teams in Class 1A will likely make it now, four of seven teams will likely make it in Class 2A, four of eight will make it in Class 3A and four of 11 should make it in Class 4A.
Obviously, I have too much time on my hands to be working on something like this. But, I thought it would be neat to try.