Cathedral Prep Football Team Wins PIAA Appeal and Remains Class 5A

Fans will have to wait at least two more years to see Cathedral Prep and McDowell face off in the District 10 football playoffs after the Ramblers won their PIAA appeal on Wednesday.

The preparation will remain in Class 5A for the 2022 and 2023 football seasons after a unanimous vote by the PIAA Board of Directors during a Zoom appeal hearing. The prep was raised to 6A by the PIAA earlier this month through the success formula and would have been in the D-10 6A playoffs with Erie and McDowell over the next two years.

Prep and McDowell regularly played for the D-10 4A title in the 1990s and 2000s before the Ramblers moved to Class 3A. The two rivals continue to play in the regular season but have not faced each other in the playoffs since Prep’s withdrawal.

Prep cited several reasons for the call, including a drop in registrations, special circumstances around their four football transfers and the Ramblers receiving four hit points in the 2020 season based on two forfeit wins in the PIAA playoffs.

Prior to Prep’s presentation, Bob Lombardi, PIAA’s executive director but not a board member, addressed the board. He encouraged the board to consider the 2020 season calling Prep moving from the PIAA’s first round to Hershey on two COVID-19 forfeits an “anomaly.” He said no other team in the state has been placed in this position to advance twice on forfeits in the PIAA playoffs.

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Prep started his presentation with the fact that their enrollment is down. The Ramblers have a roster of 325, which is in the Class 4A range, but they were forced up to 5A two years ago thanks to the success formula. According to the formula, if a football team completes three or more transfers and accumulates six or more achievement points over a two-year period, they must move up to the next ranking.

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Achievement points are awarded based on how far a team has traveled in the PIAA playoffs. If the teams reach the first round, that’s one point, the quarterfinals are two points, the semifinals are three, and getting to Hershey is four points. Prep received four points in 2020 after reaching Hershey and two for reaching the quarterfinals last fall.

Athletic director Bill Flanagan mentioned that Prep gets transfer students into the building every year, but more students are transferring as well. Flanagan also said that only one of the four transfers contributed to the football team and the other three are no longer students at Prep.

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The final argument was the level of competition with Prep losing to Imhotep Charter 42-7 in the PIAA quarterfinals this year and to Pine-Richland 48-7 at Hershey in 2020, both being grace rule games.

Prep is the only 5A team in D-10 for the next two years and will not be competing for a D-10 championship. The Ramblers will go straight to a PIAA sub-region to represent D-10.

Extended regular season

The PIAA voted to allow winter sports teams to play regular season competition until the district deadline. The vote does not affect wrestling, but swimming and diving teams and basketball teams have an extra week to hold competitions but not to exceed the number of competitions allowed.

Contact Tom Reisenweber at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ETNreisenweber.

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