New Castle News


January 22, 2014

High School Football: Laurel bumped up to Class AA, Wilmington drops



The Big Seven saw some turnover as Sto-Rox, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Laurel moved out and Riverside and Vincentian Academy came into the conference.

Those changes left Neshannock, Shenango and Union in the conference along with holdovers Rochester, South Side Beaver and Western Beaver and the two new foes.

The Vikings, who won the last two Big Seven championships, were a surprise departure — even to themselves. Reportedly, a clerical error in the enrollment figures the school submitted to the PIAA pushed the program up a classification.

“Sto-Rox, I guess by clerical error, they are gone. Things happen,” Union coach Stacy Robinson said. “I like those guys from Sto-Rox, but I am not going to cry to see them go. They are a good football team. We’ll welcome in the new teams and go from there. We have to worry about ourselves first, though, before we think about any of our opponents.”

Neshannock beat Sto-Rox two years ago and the squads wound up tied for the conference crown, along with Rochester. The Vikings narrowly edged the Lancers, 34-31, this year and repeated as champs.

“It’s definitely a big loss for the Big Seven. Sto-Rox has a quality program and quality coach in Dan Bradley. Our players have mutual respect for each other and so do our coaching staffs,” Neshannock coach Fred Mozzocio said. “Our teams have played two down-to-the-wire games the last two years. We’re sorry to see them go. Our kids are upset about it and we are upset about it. We have to move forward now.

“As disappointed as we are to see a rival like Laurel move out, too, we have to find new rivalries and new competition. I am sure Riverside and Vincentian will be up for the challenge and we’ll be ready to go.”

Vincentian begins its third year of football — and first in a WPIAL conference — this fall. The Royals were 4-6 last year. Meanwhile, Riverside went 1-8.

“If you’re around long enough, like me, you expect change,” Robinson said. “We’ll welcome the challenge. The league is nothing like it used to be when we had Farrell and Monaca and everyone was strong. It’ll still be quality football; there are a lot of good coaches in the league.”

One change that didn’t happen was a surprise. Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champ Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic moved from the Eastern Conference to the Ohio Valley Conference and not to the Big Seven.

“Word was out they were going to send North Catholic in here. I am glad they didn’t,” Robinson said.

The Trojans beat Neshannock twice last year: 21-14 in the regular season and 27-14 in the WPIAL semifinals.

“I heard some rumors they might come into the Big Seven,” Mozzocio said. “I know we’d like to play them. They have some great players down there. It’d be a great challenge for our kids.”



Realignment did not affect the Red Hurricane and the Parkway Conference. However, Highlands, which beat New Castle in a WPIAL first-round playoff game, dropped down to Class AA.

In addition, Class AAAA powerhouse Gateway dropped to Class AAA and was placed in the Greater Allegheny Conference with Franklin Regional, Greensburg-Salem, Hampton, Hollidaysburg, Indiana, Knoch, Mars and Yough.



Wilmington drops down to Class A for the first time in nearly a quarter century.

The Greyhounds captured WPIAL Class A championships in 1987 and ’88. They moved to District 10 in 1994 and dominated at the Class AA level. They appeared in 12 championship tilts and claimed eight trophies (1994-97 and 2006-09), including the 2008 PIAA title.

“We were always on the border; we were a small double-A school,” Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli said. “We’re just getting a lower number of students in each class. It appears we’ll be there (in Class A) for a while.”

Schools may play up in classification, but can’t play below their designated classification. The ’Hounds had success playing up before when the team won District 10, Class AAA titles in 2000 and ’01 even though it had a Double-A enrollment. However, the program chose to compete at its designated classification for the next two years, at least.

“We just decided to stay where we were put,” Verrelli said. “Sure, it’s possible that could change in the future.”

 Wilmington and Reynolds move from Region 3 to Region 1 with Farrell, Lakeview, Mercer, Sharpsville and West Middlesex. The ’Hounds beat Reynolds (20-7), Sharpsville (20-0) and West Middlesex (28-10) last fall.

“The Single-A schools there have been very competitive. We expect it to be that way this year, too,” Verrelli said. “It will be a learning process, but we happened to play Sharpsville and West Middlesex out of region play, so it’ll be less of a learning situation than it could have been. We’re back to playing Mercer and Lakeview. We’ll have to be ready.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Laurel vacancies filled

    Vacancies within the Laurel School District are being filled prior to the start of school next month.

    July 18, 2014

  • Laurel to have multi-class reunion

    A multi-class reunion celebrating the 25-year anniversary for Laurel’s classes of 1987 through 1991 is set for Sept. 13.

    July 14, 2014

  • Laurel board approves budget

    The Laurel School Board has adopted a $17.8 million budget for the 2014-15 school year. The $17,849,586 spending plan requires no tax increase. It represents a $361,496 increase over the current year’s budget.

    June 19, 2014 1 Story

  • Laurel names secondary principal

    The Laurel School Board hired Mark Frengel as secondary principal of student affairs. Frengel will receive a salary of $88,000 for the 2014-15 school year.

    June 19, 2014

  • Laurel class of ’74 planning reunion

    The 40-year anniversary reunion for Laurel’s Class of 1974 has been set for July 19.

    June 18, 2014

  • Laurel budget proposal has no tax increase

    The Laurel School Board has introduced a $17.8 million budget that requires no tax increase. The $17,849,586 spending plan for the 2014-15 school year is $361,496 higher than the current year’s.

    May 15, 2014

  • Laurel Class of ’74 to hold reunion

    Members of Laurel High School’s Class of 1974 will celebrate their 40th anniversary this summer.

    April 11, 2014

  • Laurel OKs positions

    The Laurel School Board approved the employment of three instructors for additional duties this week.

    April 9, 2014

  • Cooper.tiff Laurel hires Cooper as new football coach

    Laurel High has found its man. Brian Cooper replaces Pat Cuba at the helm of the Spartans football program. Cuba resigned last month after leading the Spartans to a 7-3 record and the program’s first playoff appearance since 2009.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Forbes appointed to Laurel board

    Blaine Forbes has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Laurel School Board. Forbes, who previously served on the board, was approved Monday by a unanimous vote of the eight board members.

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

"State Fair" opens at the New Castle Playhouse tonight. Will you be checking out the show?

Definitely! I've already got my tickets.
Maybe. I'm not sure.
Nah, it's not for me.
     View Results