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PIAA approves plans for fall sports high school playoffs

Football state championship games in all six classes are scheduled for Nov. 27-28 at HersheyPark Stadium.

Downingtown West High School players celebrate winning the District 1, Class 6A title in 2019. The PIAA on Wednesday approved plans for postseason football in 2020.
Downingtown West High School players celebrate winning the District 1, Class 6A title in 2019. The PIAA on Wednesday approved plans for postseason football in 2020.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

The PIAA on Wednesday approved plans for postseason championships in fall sports, with state finals in football set for Nov. 27-28 at HersheyPark Stadium.

That’s two weeks earlier than originally scheduled as the organization that oversees high school sports in the state has shortened the seasons for all fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re cautiously optimistic we can have championships,” PIAA executive director Robert Lombardi said in a conference call with the media.

Lombardi said that teams from District 12, such as two-time defending Class 6A state champion St. Joseph’s Prep, would be able to make the state playoffs but that a format still has to be decided on how they would qualify.

St. Joseph’s Prep has yet to play a football game this fall because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Hawks are working through logistical issues related to practice sites and scheduling complications in hopes of playing games in October.

La Salle, which like the Prep is a Class 6A team from District 12, has played one game, opening the season with a 35-27 win over Manheim Township on Friday. The Explorers are tentatively scheduled to play two more games, including one against the Prep.

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La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep are the only two teams from District 12 with plans to play football this fall, since the Philadelphia Public League and most of the Philadelphia Catholic League have suspended interscholastic competition because of COVID-19 concerns.

Several football teams in District 1, such as those in the Suburban One League and the Pioneer Athletic Conference, have plans to open the season in early October, with schools from the Ches-Mont and Central Leagues looking at playing games by the middle of the month.

In acknowledgment of those late starts, the PIAA approved a one-year proposal from District 1 chairman Michael Barber that district committees be allowed to grant entry to the postseason playoffs to teams that don’t meet games-played requirements.

Under current PIAA rules, teams must have scheduled at least 50 percent of the maximum number of games and have played at least 33 percent to qualify for the postseason.

The one-year rule would allow a team such as St. Joseph’s Prep or La Salle to qualify for the playoffs even if they played just two or three games. The same would be true for any team in District 1.

The PIAA announced that boys' and girls' soccer state championships would be held Nov. 20-21; girls' volleyball and field hockey Nov. 21; boys’ and girls’ cross-country Nov. 6-7; tennis team finals Oct. 31 and individual and doubles finals on Nov. 7.