Football class dominates SF meeting

Published Dec 3, 2013 at 8:42 am (Updated Dec 3, 2013 at 8:42 am)

The South Fayette Lions football team will still compete in WPIAL’s class AA next year. Earlier this year, school director Leonard Fornella brought up the idea of possibly voluntarily moving the football team to AAA. That idea was nixed after conversation with the district’s administration, including athletic director Joe Farkus and head football coach Joe Rossi.

“Based upon knowledge, we were only about four or five kids away (from being an AAA team) two years ago,” Fornella said the board’s Dec. 2 meeting. “We are presently the largest AA school in the WPIAL, [and possibly the state.]” Fornella said when the classifications were done two years ago, the numbers were based upon the current junior class at South Fayette, which only has about 156 students in it, significantly less than other classes.

Fornella told Rossi, “I feel you and your staff could do a tremendous job in AAA. I have complete confidence the students would be able to compete in AAA.”

Fornella added if WPIAL had waited until next September to do its calculations, the number would be consistent with that of an AAA school.

“Next year we will be an AAA school in football and playing at an AA level,” Fornella said. At a previous meeting, Fornella pointed out that games this year were not as competitive as they used to be, with the football team beating opponents by upwards of 50 points.

The Lions, who are undefeated this season, are scheduled to play Hickory in the PIAA Class AA semifinals on Saturday at Slippery Rock University. The team previously beat Karns City in the quarterfinals.

Head football coach Joe Rossi said at the Dec. 2 meeting that two years ago, the team lost two games by 20 points.

Rossi said that a reason the team is so successful is because it plays extra games and that the exposure the team has received regarding its playoff run this year and in the past have provided opportunities for the players. He added that representatives from Penn State and West Virginia University were on campus recently checking out the team.

“I would never want to lessen the opportunity the kids have,” Rossi said of the players having a chance to play in high-intensity games. Rossi added that younger students have the opportunity to play in most of the games during the third and fourth quarter.

“Additional playing time is key. There are a ton of challenges in AA,” said board member Paul Brinsky.

Board member Teresa Burroughs countered that she supported Rossi and said, “We should follow the grid and when they [WPIAL] move us, we will move accordingly.”

“We have two years to gear up to move to AAA. We know this is the last hurrah for AA,” said board member Alan Vezzi.

Other business

Prior to the regular meeting, the board held its reorganization meeting in which re-elected board members Leonard Fornella and Alan Vezzi were sworn in along with new board member Jennifer Iriti. Board member William Newcomer was sworn in earlier in the day and was absent from the meeting.

Fornella was elected to serve as president for 2014 and Teresa Burroughs will serve as vice president.

Also, it was announced that all board meetings for next year will be held in the Pride Room above the stadium. The next meeting of the board is Jan. 21, 2014.

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