A year ago, Yough’s football team faced culture shock on multiple levels.
Not only were the Cougars kicked up from Class AA to AAA, but they were also placed in the Greater Allegheny Conference, a league that had teams in it which were foreign to Yough when it comes to sports.
Needless to say, 2014 was a year the Cougars and coach Mark Crovak would rather forget.
They went 0-9 and were outscored by an average of 40 points per game. Their scoring average of 6.4 points per game was the lowest in the WPIAL while only three schools gave up more than the 46.1 ppg the Cougars allowed.
And that came after reaching the WPIAL playoffs the previous two seasons in Class AA.
Needless to say, there weren’t many tears shed when the WPIAL announced it was tweaking Class AAA and AA next year due to the merging of Kittanning and Ford City into the new Armstrong School District.
With the new one-year alignment, Yough will play schools that more natural rivals in the Big Nine, including Belle Vernon Area, Ringgold and Elizabeth Forward.
Gone are the road trips to far-off schools Franklin-Regional, Hampton, Mars, Indiana Area and Hollidaysburg.
Armstrong replaces Yough in the Greater Allegheny Conference.
“We’re definitely happy to be playing in a conference that is much more geographically friendly to us,” Yough Athletic Director Tom Evans said. “There are some natural rivalries there, schools we are familiar with.”
“We’re still playing Class AAA football, which won’t be easy, but I can tell you the frequent flyer miles we had last year won’t be missed,” said Crovak.
“It was difficult for us traveling to some schools our kids probably never even heard of,” he said. “And it wasn’t too much fun getting home 1 o’clock in the morning either.”
Crovak said that he always felt one of the big things about high school football is playing natural rivalries.
“And usually, the last week of the season is reserved for the real big rivalry,” he said.
Crovak paused for a moment and then added, “And who did we get the last week? We got Knoch. They gave us Knoch because it rhymes with Yough. That’s just silly.”
While Yough is happy to be in the Big Nine, there is no guarantee what conference – or classification – the Cougars will be a part of in football when the WPIAL realigns for the 2016-17 seasons.
“We will wait and see what the numbers dictate,” said Evans of Yough’s enrollment numbers. “In the last realignment, we were only over the AA limit by two students. So, who knows what the numbers will say?”
“I’ve heard that our numbers will be down, but who knows?” Crovak said. “We’re going to be really young next year, that’s for sure. It would be more beneficial for us to play in AA, but we will go where we’re told to.”
He’s just happy it won’t be to Hollidaysburg.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or [email protected].