Thursday, April 18, 2013

Leechburg leaving WPIAL. Next stop District 6?

Ligonier Valley, Northern Cambria and the rest of the Heritage Conference could have a new opponent for the 2014-15 school year.

The WPIAL Board of Control voted unanimously Wednesday to permit Leechburg Area School District to move its athletic programs from District 7 to District 6. The vote came after the Leechburg Area School Board voted 8-0 in March to request the move.

It appears the WPIAL has no desire to let Leechburg back, unless there are an odd number of teams in its classification.

"You just can't come and go as you please," WPIAL Executive Director Tim O'Malley told the Tribune-Review.

For Leechburg, a small Class A school located in Armstrong County and a small part of Westmoreland County, the move to District 6 is dependent on being accepted as a member. That's all but a formality considering they've previously been invited to join the Heritage Conference.

And that's exactly where the Blue Devils will land in the 2014-15 school year. The Heritage Conference is the only logical landing place considering its schools, such as Blairsville and Penns Manor, are relatively close to Leechburg.

One reason the school district want to make the moving is the growing number of private schools in the WPIAL. Whether or not that has affected Leechburg's ability to compete is debatable.

The football team hasn't had a winning season since 1991. The boys' basketball program generally struggles, though Leechburg did win a WPIAL Class A championship in 2006-07. It's the only WPIAL title for Leechburg, which has been a member of District 7 since 1919.

The girls' basketball team has lost 25 consecutive games.

One sport where Leechburg is generally competitive is softball. The Blue Devils regularly contend for district championships in the sport. Leechburg also sponsors boys' golf, girls' volleyball and baseball.

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