WPIAL Denies High School Football Player’s Request After His School’s Team Is Disbanded

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SHALER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Every Friday night in the fall, about 120,000 of us settle in for high school football in western Pennsylvania.

Vincenzio Battaglia is a 15-year-old junior at Vincentian Academy where he played almost every position last year, but wide receiver is his favorite.

“I like to make plays, score touchdowns, definitely a lot of fun,” said Vincenzio.

But in late July came word Vincentian was shutting down its football program for safety reasons due to a lack of players. So Vincenzio thought about the Shaler Titans. He lives in the Shaler Area School District.

“I have many friends who play for the Shaler team,” he said.

So, he decided to apply to the WPIAL. On Twitter, Vincenzio says he and his family tried for three months to find someplace where he could play football, but the WPIAL said no.

“To be eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics you have to be enrolled and in full-time attendance,” said WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley.

Since charter school and cyber students can play for teams in their home districts, the Battaglias feel the same should be allowed for Vincentian students.

“By rule that is not permitted,” said O’Malley.

For academic reasons, the Battaglia family want to keep Vincenzio at Vincentian.

“You can’t be attendance at one school and play in another,” O’Malley said.

“I was extremely disappointed I wasn’t given the chance to play,” said Vincenzio.

Other Vincentian players transferred to other schools to play football. But that’s also against WPIAL rules, and they were declared ineligible. O’Malley says, without the rule, schools could openly recruit and stockpile football talent.

“The rule is necessary to maintain a level playing field,” he said.

For Vincenzo, it makes Friday nights difficult.

“It is very tough. I mean every Friday, I have to see those highlights of everyone playing, and I’ve gone to a few games and I enjoy watching the high school games, but it’s very difficult for me to be on the sidelines when I want to be on the field,” said Vincenzio.

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