PIAA realignment adds to test for Lake-Lehman football

By Tom Robinson - For Dallas Post | August 11th, 2016 8:55 am

Realignment from four to six classes in football appears to have made things more difficult on Lake-Lehman and less demanding on Dallas in terms of competing for district titles and the state playoff berths that go with them.

Lake-Lehman has been a top contender in recent seasons.

The Black Knights won a District 2 title in Class AA in 2013 and were back in the championship game last season.

Dallas made the last two District 2 Class AAA playoffs but did so as the fourth seed in the four-team tournament. The Mountaineers last won a district playoff game in 2011 and although they have made it in eight of the past 10 seasons, they are just 2-8 in the postseason during that time.

With the switch to six classes, the old Class AA teams were essentially split into the new Class 3A and Class 2A.

Lake-Lehman not only wound up sticking with the largest two-thirds of the old Class AA teams, which wound up in Class 3A, but it also picked up an unexpected challenger. Scranton Prep, last season’s District 2 Class AAA champion, crossed over the threshold from large school to small school when the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association did its two-year review of enrollments, sending the Cavaliers into the new Class 3A.

While most of the old Class AAA teams in the state are competing in the new Class 5A and 4A, Scranton Prep figures to be battling Lake-Lehman for supremacy in 3A. They will be joined by Western Wayne, Hanover Area, Holy Redeemer, GAR, Meyers and Nanticoke in the eight-team race for four District 2 playoff berths in Class 3A.

Dallas was part of the old Class AAA. The Mountaineers are in Class 4A and no longer have to go against the largest one-third of the schools that had been in their classification.

Dallas made the District 2 playoffs last season when only four of 14 teams advanced. The redistribution of additional playoff spots around the state is noticed on the district level in Class 4A where 11 teams will go after eight spots in a three-round playoff.

Berwick and Coughlin, which were part of the Class AAA playoff field with Scranton Prep and Dallas last season, will join the Mountaineers in Class 4A this season.

Tunkhannock, which has struggled in recent seasons, is also in Class 4A, making a playoff berth a reachable goal if mild improvement takes place. The other teams in the class are West Scranton, North Pocono, Valley View, Honesdale, Wyoming Area, Crestwood, Pittston Area and Tunkhannock.

Changes in Wyoming Valley Conference alignments, District 2 qualifying and state playoff races went through their typical minor two-year alterations in some sports and major adjustments in some of the others in which the PIAA added more classifications.

Other fall sports

Boys and girls soccer have switched from three to four classes on the state level.

Dallas, Lake-Lehman and Tunkhannock were all in Class AA, the middle size in the three-class system, last year, which in the WVC meant they played every team once.

The Wyoming Valley Conference changed formats this season to two divisions, one for the large schools and one for the small, instead of three divisions to deal with each of the classes.

Dallas and Tunkhannock are now Class 3A and will play in the WVC Division 1 for large schools while Lake-Lehman is 2A and will play in WVC Division 2 for small schools. They will no longer meet each other in a conference game.

Teams will play all division opponents twice.

Dallas, Tunkhannock, Pittston Area, Hazleton Area, Wyoming Valley West, Crestwood and Coughlin in Division 1 together for both boys and girls and will have Wyoming Area with them in boys.

The Wyoming Area girls will be in Division 2 with Lake-Lehman, Holy Redeemer, Meyers, Nanticoke, GAR, Hanover Area, Berwick and Wyoming Seminary.

Field hockey has switched from two to three classifications.

The WVC has also realigned from four divisions to two based on strength.

Dallas and Tunkhannock are both Class 2A schools. Lake-Lehman is one of four Class A teams considered strong enough to compete in the upper division and will join Dallas, Tunkhannock and 12 others for a 15-team Division and 14-game schedule.

Cross country remains in three classifications.

The only change that could impact the local teams is that Abington Heights, the state’s fourth-place Class AA girls team last season, moves to Class 3A.

Dallas, which was second in the district and ninth in the state last season, and Lake-Lehman, which was fourth in the district, could get a boost from the absence of Abington Heights. Tunkhannock, which was seventh, potentially could benefit, too.

Golf is still in two classifications, but Berwick’s move from 3A to 2A causes minor changes in the Wyoming Valley Conference divisions.

Dallas moves from Division 3A-1 to 3A-2, moving it away from Tunkhannock, which it will only place once this season instead of twice in the conference schedule.

Berwick joins Lake-Lehman in Division 2A-4, adding two conference matches to the schedule.

On the district level, the move of state power Scranton Prep to 2A should in theory make it slightly easier for 3A teams and individuals to advance from the district into state play and tougher on 2A teams and individuals, including Lake-Lehman.

Girls tennis is still in two classifications.

Coughlin moves from the WVC 3A Division to the WVC 2A Division where Dallas and Tunkhannock are among the 10 teams.

The WVC teams all play each other once in the season so there are no changes in the conference schedule.

Nothing else has changed on the district or state level.

The PIAA switched from three to four classes in girls volleyball.

Dallas and Tunkhannock will be Class 3A. Lake-Lehman will be Class 2A.

The WVC schedule has all teams play each other so there are no changes on the conference level.

After classes were originally projected in December, Lake-Lehman ended cooperative sponsorships with Northwest in boys soccer and girls volleyball, ultimately dropping the Black Knights into their current classes.

Winter sports

The PIAA switched from four to six classifications in boys and girls basketball.

Dallas will be 5A boys basketball. The remaining Back Mountain teams – the Dallas girls, Lake-Lehman boys and girls and Tunkhannock boys and girls – will all be 4A.

Wrestling is still two classes and no Wyoming Valley Conference teams changed classes.

Dallas and Tunkhannock are 3A and Lake-Lehman is 2A.

Boys and girls swimming will also remain in a two-class system.

Dallas, Tunkhannock and Lake-Lehman all compete in 2A in both.

Spring sports

Baseball and softball have changed from four to six classes.

Dallas and Tunkhannock are 4A in baseball and softball while Lake-Lehman in 3A.

Track and field remains two classes.

Lake-Lehman’s girls drop to Class 2A, joining the school’s boys team. Dallas and Tunkhannock remain in 3A in both.

Boys and girls lacrosse switch from one group to two classifications.

Dallas, Lake-Lehman and Tunkhannock will all be in Class 2A, the smaller of the two.

Boys tennis and boys volleyball remain in two-class formats.

Dallas and Tunkhannock in tennis and Dallas, Tunkhannock and Lake-Lehman in volleyball all remain in Class 2A, the smaller of the two.

Lake-Lehman quarterback Nate O’Donell stiff arms G.A.R.’s Emmanuel Solomon during a high school football game lasr year.
http://www.mydallaspost.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_lehmangar03.jpgLake-Lehman quarterback Nate O’Donell stiff arms G.A.R.’s Emmanuel Solomon during a high school football game lasr year. Pete G. Wilcox File Photo | Dallas Post

By Tom Robinson

For Dallas Post

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