Several Westmoreland County teams move up in new WPIAL football realignment

Norwin, Hempfield, Latrobe, Kiski Area are among the local teams to move up in classification

Mon Feb 19, 2024 - 5:31PM

Sean Meyers Sean Meyers

Last Updated: Mon Feb 19, 2024 - 5:31PM

The WPIAL released its fall realignment for the upcoming two-year cycle, and nearly half of the Westmoreland County football teams will be moving up in classification.

After spending the last cycle in Class 5A, Norwin and Hempfield Area each will return to 6A. The largest classification expands to eight teams total, up from just five in the previous cycle. They will join holdovers Canon-McMillan, Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Mount Lebanon, North Allegheny, and Seneca Valley, while Butler Area also will return to 6A after previously playing an independent schedule. The Knights and Spartans each missed the playoffs from the Big East Conference last fall.

While those teams departed from the 5A Big East, Greater Latrobe and Kiski Area are among the teams that will fill the void, as they both bump up after previously playing in Class 4A. They’ll join incumbent teams Franklin Regional, Penn-Trafford, and Gateway, while Armstrong also will move up from 4A and Woodland Hills will shift over from the Northeast Conference previously. The Warriors and Panthers, along with the Gators, all made the playoffs from the Big East last year, while the Wildcats reached the quarterfinals in 4A.

With the elevation of both Greater Latrobe and Kiski Area, Belle Vernon Area will be the lone county team in 4A for the next cycle. The Leopards will return to the classification after a two-year tenure in 3A, and they’ll join the previously dubbed Big Seven Conference, which will shrink to six teams this cycle. BVA will compete with holdovers Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, and Trinity, while Chartiers Valley moves from the Parkway Conference. Belle Vernon won the WPIAL and PIAA titles in 3A in 2023.

Westmoreland teams will be split between two conferences in the 3A classification, with Burrell and Valley competing in what was formerly called the Allegheny Six Conference, while Derry Area, Greensburg Salem, Mount Pleasant Area, Southmoreland, and Yough will play in the Interstate Conference. The Buccaneers will move up after previously playing in the 2A Allegheny Conference, while Valley, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, and Freeport Area all will remain. Furthermore, Highlands and Imani Christian also will comprise the conference. Burrell made the postseason in 2A last fall. The Interstate, meanwhile, will add the Trojans and Cougars, while Belle Vernon Area and South Allegheny will move elsewhere. The carryovers from the Interstate include the Mount Pleasant Area Vikings, Golden Lions, and Scotties, as well as Elizabeth Forward. The Vikings and Scotties made the playoffs in 3A last year, while the Trojans qualified from 2A.

With Burrell, Derry Area, and Yough all moving up, Ligonier Valley will become the lone Westmoreland County team to remain in Class 2A for the upcoming cycle. The Rams will stay in the Allegheny Conference, as will Apollo-Ridge and Steel Valley. Newcomers to the conference will include Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny, and South Park.

In Class 1A, Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette will maintain their spots in the Eastern Conference. The Centurions and Jayhawks both made playoff appearances last season. Also staying in the conference will be Clairton, Frazier, Leechburg, Riverview, and Springdale, while Brentwood will join after dropping from 2A. Monessen, meanwhile, will shift from the Tri-County South Conference, where the Greyhounds made the playoffs in 2023, to the Black Hills Conference.