Four area teams face unwanted open dates
What was widely expected by the football coaches in the WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference became official Monday when Imani Christian informed its opponents that it would be unable to fulfill its 2013 schedule.
“We felt it was going to happen,” Chartiers-Houston coach Terry Fetsko said. “But we were hoping it wasn’t.”
Imani Christian, a private school in the East Hills section of Pittsburgh, withdrew because of low numbers after many of its players transferred to the Renaissance Christian Academy this offseason.
Imani’s demise creates open weeks for four area teams: Chartiers-Houston (Sept. 20), California (Oct. 4), Monessen (Oct. 12) and Fort Cherry (Oct. 18). Clairton, Brentwood, Bishop Canevin, Carlynton and Serra Catholic also are left with open weeks.
In some cases, such as those at Chartiers-Houston and California, teams could stand to lose a home game; the Bucs and Trojans now have three scheduled home dates instead of four.
Fort Cherry will have to bump homecoming back to Sept. 27 – against four-time PIAA Class A champion Clairton.
Fort Cherry coach Jim Shiel and athletic director Tom Scarpone have been “scouring schedules” throughout West Virginia and Ohio, hoping to find an opponent looking for a game.
Shiel said they did find one possible suitor, though he worried whether the school, located about four hours away, would be willing to travel; they would likely have to foot the bill to get a game.
“We’re going to try our best,” Shiel said. “If not, we have to go with an open week, I guess. We’ll take it from there.”
Monessen coach Andy Pacak is expending no such effort. With the Imani game originally scheduled for Week 7 and a week before a road game at Chartiers-Houston, Pacak will let his team get healthy.
“At this point, we’re not going to find a game,” Pacak said. “Even if we could, we’d rather use that time to rest up.”
Count Fetsko among the group that doesn’t want the rest – or any possible momentum halted.
“There’s always a little concern if you’re off for a week,” Fetsko said. “One way of looking at it is you have two weeks to prepare for an opponent, but you also have to worry about the kids losing their intensity during those two weeks.
“If you’re a team on a roll, you want to keep that momentum going. But you also want to play someone who’s comparable to you in size.”
One possibility that could arise is if a Tri-County South team also folds. One source told the Observer-Reporter that Geibel had to pull out of a tri-scrimmage this past Saturday because it only had nine players.
But another said a handful of players were hurt and others were out of town.
“I’m hearing Geibel’s good,” California coach Bo Teets said.
“It is what it is. We’re going to explore our options. We’re going to keep our ears open to see if anything happens with another team or an open date.”
Which, if you ask Fetsko, isn’t all that likely to happen.
“You might have some luck with a game in the beginning of the year. Maybe the end of the year, too,” said Fetsko, whose team stands to have an open week in Week 4. “But to find one in the middle of the season … you’re going to need a four-leaf clover for that.”