By Matt Popchock
Multiple sources, including WPIAL Chief Executive Tim O’Malley, have confirmed the WPIAL Football Championships will be televised on ROOT Sports once again (as was the case for six years while the network was known as FSN Pittsburgh), but not without changes to the traditional football championship schedule.
Typically, the games have been played in order of smallest classification to highest, with the Class A game kicking off in the morning. In the interest of improving local exposure of high school football, both parties have agreed to stray from that formula this year.
The WPIAL Class A Final will kick off at 11:00 A.M. Sat., Nov. 26, followed by the Class AAA Final at 2:00 P.M. Both those games will be broadcast live from Heinz Field.
The WPIAL Class AA Final will kick off at 5:00 P.M., and the Class AAAA Final will round out the event at 8:00 P.M. Both those games will be shown on tape delay, as ROOT Sports is contractually obligated to show the Penguins’ 7:00 P.M. game at Montreal live.
This is, in fact, the first time the WPIAL has played its championship football games out of order in the quarter-century that they’ve been staged on the North Shore.
O’Malley had talked after the football playoff pairings meeting about the WPIAL’s desire to compromise with ROOT Sports to get as much live coverage as possible, and he didn’t think pushing back the Class A game even earlier in the morning would be fair to those kids. The network apparently wanted at least one of the two games in the two higher classifications to be televised live.
It’s too bad they couldn’t get three live and one on delay, which has happened in the past, but considering these factors, and considering the teams in the higher classifications generally get more coverage from the network than the teams in Class A and AA, this seems like a fair deal.
Keep reading the “Mr. High School Sports” blog in the weeks ahead for more on the 2011 WPIAL Football Championships.
(Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mpopchock)