The Redbank Valley Bulldogs football team will indeed be able to defend its last two District 9 Class A championships.
By virtue of an accepted appeal on the PIAA’s initial moving the Bulldogs up to Class AA for the next cycle starting this fall, the Bulldogs won’t bump up because they did not have enough transfers over the past two years to merit the move.
The note from PIAA Executive director Dr. Robert A. Lombardi was simple:
“The Executive Staff is accepting of the source documents for the nine students and approve your appeal. Therefore, the Redbank Valley HS classification will be in AA in the sport of football for the 2022-23 and 2023-04 school years.”
It ended a waiting game for the program that just finished its best season ever by reaching the PIAA Class A final in December before losing to Bishop Guilfoyle. But once that was completed, it was official that the team had eclipsed the two of the three Competition Formula factors.
— Enrollment classification and Success Points.
Success points work this way:
— 1 point for reaching their district championship.
— 2 points for playing in a state quarterfinal.
— 3 points for playing in a state semifinal
— 4 points for playing in a state championship.
If a team has six points over a two-year span, it is under consideration to move up a classification if it has three or more athletic transfers.
The points total was obviously reached. In 2020, the Bulldogs reached the PIAA quarterfinals and this past season, they landed in the state final.
The way that’s counted would have the Bulldogs at 6 points — 2 points from reaching last year’s quarterfinals and 4 points for this year’s final.
From there, the PIAA looks at submitted team rosters and basically looks for new players that come into the program — transfer or not. So a first-year senior, such as Bryson Bain, would be considered a possible “transfer.”
The burden of proof was on the school that the athlete hasn’t transferred into the school district over the past two years and what was posted by the PIAA as nine possible transfers wound up just one. Thus, the transfer criteria was not reached.
“I understand what the purpose of the competitive balance rule is and I support PIAA’s efforts to regulate large amounts of transfers flowing into programs that are winning year in and year out,” said Redbank Valley Bulldogs head coach Blane Gold, named the Co-Coach of the Year in Class A by both the Pennsylvania Sports Writers and PA Football News.
“A For us specifically, Marquese Gardlock was our only transfer and he did everything by the book when he came here by sitting out of all sports his sophomore year. While Marquese was indispensable to our success, we also had a team that was good enough to win the district when Marquese wasn’t able to play in any district playoff games. This was a homegrown team full of kids that have played together their entire lives. I didn’t want that to be lost in the process.”
The Bulldogs’ classification number is 106, by the way with the upper limit for Class A at 123. That number is determined by the number of boys in eighth through 11th grade at the end of the 2021 calendar year. Other equations are used to find that number such as students in vo-tech or cyber school or if the program is a co-operative setup.
For instance, Karns City landed at 124, a surprisingly low number and nearly Class A, but the PIAA changed its equation handling how vo-tech students are counted based on time spent at the school, thus Karns City’s numbers haven’t necessarily plunged as low as it appears.
And so it’s time to move on and defend a title for the Bulldogs, who, along with the rest of the District 9 Football League, has a new setup for the next two years.
THE NEW LANDSCAPE — The District 9 Football League released the schedule for next season. Instead of three divisions called Large, Small-South and Small North, it’s Region 1, 2 and 3:
Region 1 (with classification in parenthesis): Karns City (2A), St. Marys (3A), DuBois (4A), Bradford (4A), Central Clarion (2A, one number shy of Class 3A), Punxsutawney (3A), Brookville (2A) and Moniteau (2A).
Region 2: Kane (2A), Brockway (A), Ridgway (2A), Redbank Valley (A), Union/A-C Valley (A), Keystone (A), Smethport (A), Port Allegany (A).
Region 3 (All Class A): Coudersport, Cameron County, Otto-Eldred, Elk Co. Catholic, Sheffield, Bucktail.
So Class 2A and A teams will mix a bit more in scheduling for the league. In the Bulldogs’ case, they’ll play each of the division foes, plus Karns City and Punxsutawney. The Week 10 slots for some teams aren’t filled and it’s not totally clear when the playoffs would start in some of the classifications, so some more Week 10 games could be scheduled by teams.
“Last year, I may have had a different opinion about the schedule. but losing the state title game to a Bishop Guilfoyle team that went 6-4 in the regular season against all AA and AAA competition convinced me that we need to find ways to get district 9 AA opponents on our schedule,” Gold said. “The new schedule just happened to work out in our favor that way.”
THE SCHEDULES — Here are team by team schedules listed by weeks in order — Aug. 26, Sept. 2, Sept. 9, Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28. Some dates in each week may change to a Thursday or Saturday as usually the case:
Karns City: DuBois, at Redbank Valley, Ridgway, St. Marys, at Moniteau, at Central Clarion, Punxsutawney, Brookville, Bradford.
St. Marys: Moniteau, Ridgway, at Kane, at Karns City, Punxsutawney, at Brookville, DuBois, at Bradford, Central Clarion.
DuBois: at Karns City, Brockway, Clearfield, at Bradford, Brookville, at Punxsutawney, at St. Marys, Central Clarion, at Moniteau.
Bradford: at Punxsutawney, Coudersport, at Otto-Eldred, DuBois, Central Clarion, at Moniteau, at Brookville, St. Marys, Karns City, at Kane (Week 10).
Central Clarion: Brookville, at Port Allegany, Union/ACV, Punxsutawney, at Bradford, Karns City, Moniteau at DuBois, at St. Marys.
Punxsutawney: Bradford, at Kane, Redbank Valley, at Central Clarion, at St. Marys, DuBois, at Karns City, Moniteau, at Brookville, Union/ACV (Week 10).
Brookville: at Central Clarion, Tyrone, at Keystone, Moniteau, at DuBois, St. Marys, Bradford, at Karns City, Punxsutawney.
Moniteau: at St. Marys, Elk Co. Catholic, at Cameron County, at Brookville, Karns City, Bradford, at Central Clarion, at Punxsutawney, DuBois.
Kane: at Brockway, Punxsutawney, St Marys, at Ridgway, at Union/ACV, Port Allegany, Redbank Valley, at Keystone, at Smethport, Bradford (Week 10).
Ridgway: Port Allegany, at St. Marys, at Karns City, Kane, Redbank Valley, at Keystone, at Smethport, Brockway, Union/ACV.
Brockway: Kane, at DuBois, at Coudersport, Union/ACV, at Port Allegany, Smethport, Keystone, at Ridgway, at Redbank Valley.
Redbank Valley: Smethport, Karns City, at Punxsutawney, Keystone, at Ridgway, Union/ACV, at Kane, at Port Allegany, Brockway.
Union/ACV: Cameron County, Keystone, at Central Clarion, at Brockway, Kane, at Redbank Valley, Port Allegany, Smethport, at Ridgway at Punxsutawney (Week 10).
Keystone: Coudersport, at Union/ACV, Brookville at Redbank Valley, at Smethport, Ridgway, at Brockway, Kane, Port Allegany.
Smethport: at Redbank Valley, Cameron County, Port Allegany, at Coudersport, Keystone, at Brockway, Ridgway, at Union/ACV, Kane.
Port Allegany: at Ridgway, Central Clarion, at Smethport, Cameron County, Brockway, at Kane, at Union/ACV, Redbank Valley, at Keystone.
Note: Otto-Eldred, ECC, Sheffield and Bucktail play each other home and away.
Coudersport: at Keystone, at Bradford, Brockway, Smethport, at Cameron County, at Elk Co. Catholic, Otto-Eldred, at Sheffield, Bucktail.
Cameron County: at Union/ACV, at Smethport, Moniteau, at Port Allegany, Coudersport, at Bucktail, Sheffield, at Elk Co. Catholic, Otto-Eldred.
Otto-Eldred: at Elk Co. Catholic, at Sheffield, Bradford, at Bucktail, Elk Co. Catholic, Sheffield, at Coudersport, Bucktail, at Cameron County.
Elk Co. Catholic: Otto-Eldred, at Moniteau, Bucktail, Sheffield, at Otto-Eldred, Coudersport, at Bucktail, Cameron County, at Sheffield.
Sheffield: at Bucktail, Otto-Eldred, Open (Week 3), at Elk County Catholic, Bucktail, at Otto-Eldred, at Cameron County, Coudersport, Elk Co. Catholic.