Aliquippa football to be moved to Class 5A after winning championship, PIAA says

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — The Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School football team may be seeing some new competition this year, but to them, the situation is déjà vu.

The Quips took home the PIAA Class 4A state title in November, making it the school’s fifth PIAA championship during the first undefeated season in the history of powerhouse football.

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However, due to the PIAA’s competition classification formula, the Quips will have to move up a class.

The formula says it uses enrollment numbers to establish a school’s classification that has stood the test of time for decades. It also states there is general view that enrollment numbers may not clearly indicate equal competition factors and there should be additional items that need to be considered in the classification process to keep athletic competition in balance, like transfers and success on the field.

In 2021, Aliquippa Junior/Senior High School had 117 teenage boys enrolled, which would have put them in Class 1A. However, while they “volunteered” to play in Class 3A for the previous two seasons, PIAA enacted the formula which forced them to move to 4A. This pitted them against schools with three times their enrollment.

>> Aliquippa football team to move up due to PIAA rule

Aliquippa won the PIAA State Championship in Class 4A in 2021, as well as the WPIAL Championship. This caused the PIAA to force them to move to Class 5A. but they won their appeal to stay put in 4A.

“We were not comfortable playing 4A, that was not something we wanted to do, and expressed our frustration with the 4A cycle,” said Aliquippa superintendent Dr. Phillip Woods at the time. “Then we get a letter now saying we have to play 5A, which is even more ridiculous than playing 4A.”

At the time of the appeal, Aliquippa argued that the safety of their players would be compromised if playing against schools with the enrollment of 5A schools. They also have more resources than Aliquippa.

>> Aliquippa football team wins appeal, will stay in 4A

“The wear and tear on their bodies, the mental stress, the competition that we aren’t afraid of, but the continuous pounding we will get week after week, playing teams that are four and five times our size, that’s just not right,” said Mike Warfield, the Aliquippa head football coach.

The PIAA provided the following statement to Channel 11 regarding the move:

“All schools, which were identified by the competition formula, including Aliquippa, received notification prior to the holiday break, indicating their classification may be upgraded. In the case of Aliquippa, that would be an upgrade from the 4A to 5A football classification, based on achieving 8 competition points having reached the last two 4A PIAA Football Championships, and on the number of potential transfers identified over those two seasons.

“Aliquippa has the opportunity to appeal that determination pursuant to the policy. The school has until January 10, 2024 to submit an initial appeal.”

Aliquippa plans to appeal the decision again.

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