Yes, a post … and a 3 p.m. start for the PIAA Board of Directors meeting in Hershey.

In case you haven’t been keeping track, new executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi and the staff have done a great job of streamlining the Board meeting agenda.  In short, Doc has made it a priority to cut out the fat in Board meetings … and the meetings have lost about 50 percent of their previous weight.

Gone are the lumpy, 200-page agenda packets.  The agendas and items are out nearly a week ahead of time so BOD members aren’t hit with new matters when they walk in the door.  And not the least, less talk, more action has been a focus under Doc Lombardi and new PIAA president Jim Zack (District 4 chairman).

Why this crazy 3 p.m. start time as opposed to the usual 7 p.m.?  Well, more evil genius from the good doctor.  Because there are 9 new Board members, Dr. Lombardi and other Board members thought it would be good for members to mingle and get to know each other a little better and take some of the mystery out of the process.  Thus, the Board meeting starts early and dinner comes later, rather than the other way around.

But the real benefit of the new format is that Board meetings have moved much more quickly and efficiently.  It helps, too, that there have not been any major issues in recent months to clog up the works.  And there is no real hot-button issue on the agenda today.  Nor are any hearings scheduled for tomorrow.

So, this meeting has the potential to be one of the quickest and least controversial in recent memory.

After the usual wave of co-operative sponsorships and financial reports – things are looking better for PIAA on the latter – the first real note of interest is the number of fall sports disqualifications, which are up 13 percent in soccer and 20 percent in football, not a good sign.  There were 427 ejections in soccer (including girls), 356 players and 63 coaches.  Really, it’s time to calm down on the pitch.  Football wasn’t any better with 206 ejections, about the same as soccer when you extrapolate the number of games.

Most of the ejections were for foul language, according to assistant executive director Pat Gebhart.

A new policy in track and field will now permit PIAA to scratch an entire relay team at the state championship meet if a relay team member scratches for a reason other than a certified illness or injury and leaves the relay with less than four eligible members.  The key phrase is “certified injury or illness”.  An athlete cannot just wander up to the Meet Directors, say he’s hurt and leave the relay team.  That injury or illness must be certified by a physician of medicine or osteopathic medicine or the meet referree.

Should a relay team be scratched under those circumstances, the next place finisher from that district will be eligible to take that spot.

One thing that will come up toward the end of the meeting is a report from the football steering committee.  Since my daughter had to get her braces off today (yes, I scheduled it on a PIAA meeting day), I was unable to attend and have no idea what was discussed.  We’ll all find together, eh?

A request by Taylor allderdice of Pittsburgh to play a season-opening game against Steubenville, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 29, one day before the legal start date for football, was turned down by the Board by a 22-8 vote (the motion was made for denial).



Discussion has turned to football and a proposed heat acclimation program.   The PIAA passed, on a first-reading basis, a policy that is modeled on New Jersey’s heat acclimation guidelines.

The highlights:

(1) The first three days of the PIAA-defined fall season will consist of no more than 3 hours of on-field practice time.  For football, helmets only may be worn the first two days; full protective gear can be used after that.

(2) The maximum allotted time for practice per day is 5 hours.  A 5-hour practice day may only be followed by a 3-hour practice day.  Further practices are affected by this rule.

(3) A minimum of a 3-hour recovery period must be provided after any session greater than 2 hours in length.  A 3-hour recovery period should be provided before a walkthrough.

(4) The proposed rule provides a guideline for incremental increases in activity to provide better heat acclimation.

Please note this rule passed on a first-reading basis only.  There will be a lot of discussion going forward on the matter, and there could be changes in the language.


I have to admit something.  When I took the job of webmaster and director of corporate sponsorships for District 3, I knew I’d be very busy and that would suffer.

I didn’t think I’d flush it completely down the hole.

The lack of updates, especially of PIAA championships (which was always the original focus of this site), is inexcusable.  While it’s true that I spend oodles of necessary time on the District 3 website (keeping up with the breadth of updates and changes is more time-consuming than one might imagine) and what’s left is generally spent being a parent (albeit part-time, thanks to someone’s selfish decision), there is really no excuse for letting the site lapse.

For that, I apologize greatly to those who, starting in 2010, had come to this site on a regular basis to enhance their knowledge of PIAA championships.  Frankly, I’ve let you down and I’ve let myself down.

Over the last few months, I’ve struggled about what to do about this site.  My original vision of this site – a one-stop place for Pennsylvania high school sports fans of all persuasions to find sports news and championship information – has long since faded.  I can honestly say the primary culprit is time, but it is also a significant shift in personal direction.

I have laughingly referred to my 2009 decision to leave the Patriot-News via buyout as “semi-retirement,” although I knew my project would keep me as busy as my work at the Patriot-News would … for far less compensation.  I wasn’t crazy about leaving the money behind, but I was even less crazy about not being able to watch and have limited contact with my daughters during their high school years.  I had lost way, way too many moments after my ex-wife and I separated in 2002, and I simply wasn’t going to let the remaining years pass the same way.  Thus, the decision.

But along the way, I found out something that surprised me:  I really didn’t miss newspaper reporting.  At all.  Considering that reporting is all I have done since the age of 16 and I absolutely loved the job right up to the day I signed the buyout papers, that is an astounding admission.

I still miss the cameraderie with colleagues, very much so.  But in all honesty, that’s about it.  I’ve had occasion to freelance along the way, and I have to admit that it has become tougher and tougher to gin up the mental energy necessary to become a reporter again.  In short, I really am semi-retired now in that sense.

But I still retain a deep passion for high school sports.  The difference now is that I’m working the field from the administrative side instead of the media side, and I absolutely love it.  I love what I’m doing for District 3 and what I do on occasion for the PIAA headquarters (technically, I am a PIAA employee and not a District 3 employee because PIAA is the legal entity that encompasses all districts).  So I am quite comfortable in my post-newspaper world.

But . . .

I am quite angry that I allowed this site to flop.  Really, I can’t allow that to stand.  It’s too much of a personal embarrassment.  So I’ve finally come to a decision.

I will not let the site simply stand in place as I have since the start of the school year.  Really, is there any point in having a site  that never changes?  Of course not.

So, what I will do is this:  I will trim the site down to something that is workable for the reduced amount of time I have to commit to it.

Going forward, I will provide links to PIAA championship brackets, events and news; those really don’t take up a great deal of time, although my District 3 work obviously is the priority.  Where possible, I will attend and recap PIAA championships and Board of Directors meetings.  While I will do limited writing, I will always strive to provide immediate news on the actions taken by PIAA (and by extension, state government).  Those actions affect every athlete and member school in the state and sometimes directly affect the parents of athletes (I can attest to that!)

Also, I will commit to upgrading my PIAA championship records and keeping them current.  One of my goals with was to become the repository of PIAA championship histories and records because, well, I’m quite the geek when it comes to that.  But those records and history have fallen into disrepair as well.  Time to get them up to speed and all shined up again.

I will post only occasionally because the time to write on a daily basis is the one thing that has been wiped out by my job. Also, the platform that I used to cover events live (Cover It Live) has gone from a free service to a very expensive pay service.  So I will not be doing live, interactive chats from PIAA events.  In addition, PIAA now has a live blogging policy in place that basically requires any blogger to pay a fee to do real-time updates (no, there is no employee discount).

Again, I apologize to those who had become loyal readers; your loyalty was not rewarded.  But here’s to giving it another, if downsized, go.


OK, a month between posts is not exactly the way to run a high school sports website.

In truth, while I still harbor the enthusiasms that resulted in this creation, the time needed to act on those enthusiasms has evaporated.  You know the litany of reasons (excuses?): Kids, District 3 staff and administrative work and, well, kids.  But I haven’t said much about an increasingly important factor:  I actually enjoy being retired, such as you can call me retired.

On Friday, it is a toss-up whether I’ll attend a local football game or stay home and do some more D3 work while watching Boise State and Michigan State.  I’m not kidding when I say either option is equally enjoyable.  In truth, I’m as big of a college football fan as I am a Pennsylvania high school football fan.  And I will skip what could be a great season-opening game on Saturday between Bishop McDevitt and Harrisburg because I’ll be heading up to the ol’ hometown for a mini class reunion.   There’s that whole “retired” thing.

By and large, my reporting days are a thing of the past.  I’m still doing some freelance reporting on PIAA matters for newspapers around the state (it pays, and with 3 k ids eyeing up college, pay matters).  And I’ll still post PIAA meetings and issues here on as well as other news of interest now that the school year has begun.

But as a PIAA employee, I feel I should not do subjective rankings anymore.  I don’t necessarily consider doing rankings a conflict of interest, but I don’t want people to think my rankings bear the District 3 or PIAA imprimatur.  Neither District 3 nor PIAA officials have told me to desist; this is entirely my decision.  But I’ll bet they agree.

Too bad, too.  I LOVED doing rankings when I was at The Patriot-News and my first year on this site because I loved – and still love – high school football.  Attending a high school game remains a very pleasurable experience, even though I have no personal connection to the players and coaches; I just love the sport.  OK, I admit I am a Central Dauphin fan in all sports these days because the triplets are fully integrated CD students.  So, for now, I’m a CD dad, and that makes me a CD fan … and not just in field hockey (Go, Halle!).  So having a serious CD bias is an exclusionary factor, too.

But we can’t just leave the rankings unattended.  Directly below are links to the state rankings from The Patriot-News, Pennsylvania Football News and  I link because, my current status notwithstanding, I love rankings.



EASTERNPAFOOTBALL (scroll down to midpoint of home page for rankings, which are not quite complete as of today.  In big school, the top two spots are blank, although they’ll be filled by Central Dauphin and Archbishop Wood, although I’m not sure which school will take which spot.  The top spot in small school is open.  My wild guess is Wyomissing. Regardless, I’m always a big fan of what Dave Mika and his staff do with the site.)

Some pre-season football notes:

Sadly, Father Geibel, a small Catholic school in Connellsville, has already forfeited its season opener against Frazier because of a lack of bodies. Geibel originally had 25 players sign up, but only 15 were on the preseason roster.  Injuries have reduced that to 10, ergo the forfeit.  Mike White’s report on the Post-Gazette’s Varsity Blog is here.

Not exactly new news, but worth repeating that Father Judge of the Philadelphia Catholic League will open the season in County Meath, Ireland against Notre Dame Prep of Scottsdale, Arizona.  Pennsylvania teams have played outside of the Lower 48 before, primarily in Canada, but it is believed this is first state team to play across the pond.  Not cheap at $2,700 per person (52 players and 16 coaches … SIXTEEN coaches?).

Speaking of Canada, what in the world is my HS alma mater, Clearfield, doing opening the season – and christening its new turf field – against a Canadian team (St. Joan of Arc of Mississaugua, Ontario)?  I guess Penns Valley wasn’t available.  Oh, wait.  PV is the Week 2 opponent.  And to think we used to get beat up by the likes of State College, DuBois, and Lock Haven back in the day.  In fairness, Clearfield, while still a small Class AAA school (327 males, 29 above the AAA / AA cutoff) is a good fit in the Mountain League, even if fellow 9-AAA schools Bradford and St. Marys aren’t too crazy about it.  Joking aside, Clearfield’s schedule is fine.

Clairton HS from District 7 enters the season with a 47-game winning streak, currently the nation’s longest and a threat to Central Bucks West’s state record of 59 consecutive wins.  The Bears can break the record with another unbeaten 9-win regular season and a fifth straight WPIAL championship.






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