PIAA reveals new classifications

Four Y-A League schools will compete at the 6-A level the next two seasons in both football and boys' basketball.

Patrick Strohecker
  • Dover will be smallest 5-A school in football beginning next season.
  • York High will be second largest 5-A school in boys' basketball for 2016-17 season.

It took years for the PIAA to finally decide to expand from four classes to six in football and several other sports.

Now, as each month passes and deadlines come and go, state high schools are getting closer and closer to a brave new world in Pennsylvania prep sports.

The PIAA recently released its classification reports for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 high school sports seasons.

The report comes on the heels of the PIAA Board of Directors approving class expansion in multiple sports at a meeting last month. During that meeting, the PIAA voted to expand football, basketball, baseball and softball from four classes to six, girls' volleyball and soccer from three classes to four, field hockey from two classes to three and boys' and girls' lacrosse from one class to two.

When the PIAA decided to approve the move, especially in football, it was done in an attempt to reduce the size differential among schools in the large-school classification and to get in line with several other states in the country. On average, in six-class states, there are about 100 schools per class. Before the change, Pennsylvania had an average of 144 schools per class. Under the new six-class setup, that average is down to 96 schools per class.

This new classification changes are only effective for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Football: Within the York-Adams League, there aren't too many huge surprises under the new football classifications.

Most schools and coaches within the league had a general idea of where they'd fall. Dallastown was the largest Y-A League school, with a male enrollment of 784. The Wildcats are joined in Class 6-A by York Tech, Central York and Red Lion. In 5-A, York High will be the largest Y-A school with 492 male students, and will be joined by New Oxford, South Western, Northeastern, Spring Grove and Dover. The Eagles are the smallest 5-A school in the new alignment with 398 male students, the only 5-A school in the state with fewer than 400 male students.

When the PIAA released its classification report on Monday, the Dover football team will now be the smallest 5-A school in the upcoming season.  John A. Pavoncello - jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com

Gettysburg, Susquehannock, West York and York Suburban are the only schools from the Y-A League in 4-A, while Eastern York, Bermudian Springs, Littlestown and Biglerville will play in 3-A. Hanover is staying in 2-A, while Delone Catholic and York Catholic will be bumped up into that class from 1-A. Fairfield is the only Y-A League school which will now compete in 1-A, with a male enrollment of just 129.

Boys' basketball: In boys' basketball, perhaps the biggest surprise was York High avoiding Class 6-A, and instead being one of the largest 5-A schools.

"Typically, if you look at teams in the state, Reading has 1,900 kids," Bearcats head coach Troy Sowers said. "J.P. McCaskey has 1,200 kids, Harrisburg, Central York, Dallastown are in the 700s. ...So we're probably at a place that's more equatable to what our number actually is."

In the four-class system, the Bearcats played in the highest tier against some schools with more than 2,000 male students. Now, because of  the class change, they'll be the second-largest 5-A school.

"That's where you want to fall when the classifications come out," Sowers said. "You want to be at the upper end of your level, so I think being a larger 5-A schools is to our advantage."

In 6-A for boys' basketball are Dallastown, York Tech, Central York and Red Lion. York High will be joined in 5-A by New Oxford, South Western, Northeastern, Spring, Dover, Gettysburg, Susquehannock, West York and York Suburban.

In 4-A, Kennard-Dale is the largest Y-A League school at that level and is joined by Eastern York, Bermudian Springs, Littlestown and Biglerville. In 3-A, Hanover, Delone Catholic and York Catholic are the only Y-A League schools at that level, while Fairfield is the only school playing in 2-A. No Y-A League schools will play in 1-A.

The classification breakdowns for all sports for the next two high school sports seasons can be found on the PIAA website, PIAA.org.

— Reach Patrick Strohecker at pstrohecker@yorkdispatch.com

Trey Shifflett (right) and York High will enter the 2016-17 boys' basketball season as the second-largest 5-A school under the new PIAA classifications. BILL KALINA-bkalina@yorkdispatch.com