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Breaking: PIAA expands classifications for high school footbal, nine other sports

When the PIAA Board of Directors passed two motions Wednesday reclassifying football for the first time since 1988, and expanding classes in 10 other sports, some YAIAA coaches breathed a sigh of relief.

"Coming from a small school, I love the idea," Susquehannock girls' lacrosse coach Steve Marshner said after hearing his sport will switch to two classes starting in 2016-2017. Also adding classifications are boys' lacrosse, girls' and boys' basketball, girls' and boys' soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and girls' volleyball.

"I couldn't be happier. This is good news," Marshner said. "When we get to districts, we won't have to go against the Manheim Townships and Hempfields. We'll be slotted against schools our own size."

Basketball will be reclassified into six groups, but that won't change how Troy Sowers and the William Penn Bearcats prepare.

"I really was indifferent, we'll be in whatever class they tell us to be in," Sowers said. "We've been in the biggest class since they've been around. We've been a AAA-populated school playing a AAAA schedule. We'll prepare for whoever is in front of us. It won't affect our scheduling, we always schedule the hardest teams no matter what."

In football, local coaches were more interested in what it would mean for district playoffs and how many teams would qualify, which is yet to be determined.

Dallastown head coach Kevin Myers agreed the change was the right move, but he questioned if it would make it more challenging for YAIAA teams such as Dallastown, Red Lion and Central York to make the playoffs. Theoretically, those teams would be likely bump up to 6A, but because their league schedules would be against mostly 4A and 5A schools, their strength of schedule would be weaker than those of Lancaster-Lebanon and Mid Penn teams.

"There are still some unknowns but I want to see how the playoffs are set up," Myers said. "In our league, our teams might have to go 9-1 or undefeated to get in depending on how they set it up with number of teams qualifying. But maybe we'll have to consider playing bigger schools after the next scheduling cycle."

Some of the league's smaller football programs such as Delone Catholic weren't fond of the switch.

"It doesn't affect our class too much, but I didn't really think the system was broken," Squires head coach Corey Zortman said. "I thought the prior system was a good system. For us at Delone, I'm kind of sorry to see it go."

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