Top Stories of 2014: #7 - WPIAL Title Drought Continues

By Jacob Gill
Philadelphia Region Director of Scouting

The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL), or, District VII, as it is more commonly known outside of the southwestern part of the state, has received twelve PIAA state tournament bids in each of the past two seasons, most among all districts in the state. Those twenty-four teams (three bids per year in each of the four classifications) have brought home a combined zero state championships.

Beaver Area, which fell in the 2013 class AA championship game, is the only WPIAL school to reach a title game in the past two seasons. In 2014, a mere three of the twelve teams won their opening round state tournament game, with only one of those teams advancing beyond the quarterfinals (Seneca Valley reached the class AAAA semis).

How does this compare to recent performance from other comparable districts? Below are the state tournament results over the past two seasons for the three districts that have received the most state tournament bids: 

       PIAA State Tournament Results (2013-2014)
District State Bids Teams to Reach
Teams to Reach
I 16 13 8 3 3
III 19 5 2 1 1
VII 24 12 6 1 0

District I, which encompasses the suburban Philadelphia area, has had the most success during this time frame, with Devon Prep (2014 class A), North Penn (2013 class AAAA), and Pope John Paul II (2014 class AAA) winning state titles. District III, which is made up of schools in ten counties directly to the west of District I, has obviously struggled in the early rounds of the tournament. The bane of District III's existence has been, perhaps not surprisingly, District I (more than half of District III's state tournament losses, 10 of 18, have come at the hands of schools from its neighbor to the east). West York Area won the 2013 class AAA state title (its second in a row) to account for District III's notch on the right side of the ledger above.

District VII's 24 teams have exited the state tournament via losses to schools from eight different districts over the past two years, with the primary culprits being District IX (8 losses) and...their District VII counterparts (7 losses). While the cannibalistic nature of the western side of the bracket ensures that one team is headed home from each WPIAL vs WPIAL match-up, it also ensures that one team will advance to the next round. And when those teams have advanced, the recent results have not worked out in their favor.

Riverside, the 2012 class AA champ, was the last WPIAL team to capture a state crown. That title was the Panthers second in a row, the first of which was accompanied by a Serra Catholic class A championship for the WPIAL as well. Which WPIAL school has the best chance to join these two and break the current drought in 2015? Pitching is always a good place to start, so maybe the two schools below will lead the charge.

Defending WPIAL class AAA tournament champion West Allegheny returns three seniors as its top innings-eaters - Indiana of PA commit Colin Claus, Tyler Amedure, and Tyler Eritz - who combined for a line of 116.0 IP, 92 H, 41 BB and 132 K last season. Greensburg Central Catholic, which due to enrollment changes dropped from class AA to class A, brings back potentially dominant Campbell University commit Collin Liberatore, who, along with fellow senior Cole Reese and sophomore Neal McDermott, posted a composite line of 89.0 IP, 74 H, 38 BB, and 87 K last year.

Top Stories of 2014
#8 - Acceleration of the Recruiting Process
#9 - Duffy One(-Title)-and-Done at Pope John Paul II
#10 - Sub-.500 Seneca Valley Makes Run to State Semifinals
#11 - PBR PA Moves Office to Manheim
#12 - PBR Recruiting Essentials Unveiled

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