Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Congratulations, not criticism, for OJR

Moments after Owen J. Roberts won the District 1-AAA Team Duals title two weeks ago, the critics began weighing in on the district’s great teams of the past and comparing them all. And before Owen J. Roberts even stepped on the mat for last Thursday night’s opener in the PIAA Team Duals out in Hershey, the critics began chirping how it was a team that couldn’t do this and couldn’t do that on the state level.

What the you-know-what ever happened to that one simple word, you know, congratulations (remember that one?), and just letting it go at that?

I may be wrong, but it would seem the 14 wrestlers who put their heart and soul into it – as well as all their lesser-known but just as important teammates who pushed them in the practice room – had earned the simplest of props.

But stray a step out of Bucktown, run into one fan or a gang of them from a neighboring or distant school district, and the occasional compliment may be difficult to hear above all the negativity.

Or might that just be envy?
Student-athletes strive to be the best they can be. Most do anyway, and most play or compete to win. Talent alone doesn’t win championships. That’s been proven time and time again, in all sports. But a little talent, an unwavering work ethic, and some fire in the belly is hard to beat. That’s also been proven time and time again, in all sports ... including wrestling.

Owen J. Roberts, with its collection of just-above-average, tireless blue-collar working and highly-motivated wrestlers, proved how hard it was to beat this winter. From the first weekend of December all the way up until last weekend, Owen J. Roberts proved it was the best team in District 1 and one of the best teams – arguably among the eight best – in all of Pennsylvania for the 2011-2012 season.

Acknowledge it. Accept it.
And instead of finding some sort of consolation by comparing this Owen J. Roberts team to your favorite team or some power from the past, applaud it.

There is always enough time to reflect back on the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s best teams, always enough time to look back and talk about District 1’s and Pennsylvania’s best teams. Making comparisons – and drawing up those fantasy matches – is fine, actually fun to do.

Like looking back six years ago, Upper Perkiomen won district and state duals with what most consider the most talented lineup in the history of District 1, a lineup that ranks right up there among the best ever in Pennsylvania. Like looking back at the Cheltenhams in the 30s and 40s; the Council Rocks and Phoenixvilles in the 70s; the Downingtowns, Neshaminys, North Penns and Pottstowns in the 80s, and all those other Upper Perkiomens, Norristowns, Council Rocks Souths and Boyertown since...

But all those teams did their thing then, not now.

For now, for this recently completed dual-meet season, Owen J. Roberts was the best ... in the PAC-10 and in District 1.

For that, and for that only, the Wildcats – along with head coach Steve DeRafelo and his staff – all deserve a “Congratulations.”

* * *
Some notes from the state duals: Canon-McMillan, as expected, won its first AAA title. The Macs defeated four-time defending champion Central Dauphin (28-25) in the semifinals, then stopped surprising Erie McDowell (35-20) for the championship. Central Dauphin, which had its all-time, state-record 95-match winning streak snapped in the semifinal setback, ended up finishing third. ... Bethlehem Catholic, as expected, won its second straight AA title. ... Mechanicsburg, which finished fourth, had an interesting final week and a half. The Wildcats faced three straight unbeaten teams – losing to Central Dauphin in the District 3-AAA final, then topped both Central Mountain and Owen J. Roberts in the first two rounds of states. ... A total of 25 matches were decided by 12 points or less – 14 in AAA and 11 in AA.

* * *
The second season gets under way Saturday with the district’s six sectionals. Phoenixville and Upper Perkiomen will be at Pottsgrove for Section Two; Methacton and Perkiomen Valley will be at Hatboro-Horsham for Section Three; and Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford will be at Boyertown for Section Four. ... Daniel Boone, after a near three-week layoff, will be at Governor Mifflin as part of the 12-team field for the District 3-AAA Section Four Tournament. ... The Hill School travels to Episcopal Academy on Friday for the start of the two-day state prep tournament.

* * *
Perkiomen Valley hosted its 14th annual Viking Invitational last weekend and Spring-Ford Gold, on the strength of four individual champions and 15 medalists overall, captured the team title (264.5). Boyertown East, which also had four individual champions and 11 medalists, was second (204). Easton (178.5), Quakertown (144.5) and Boyertown West (141) rounded out the top five in the 16-team field.

Spring-Ford Gold got gold from Matt Krieble (110 pounds), Will Meredith (130), Steve Rice (145) and Danny Krieble (165), while teammates Hunter Mitch (100), Jimmy Frank (105) and Matt Goodrich (210) settled for runner-up honors. Boyertown East’s champions were Lucas Miller (100), Gregg Harvey (138), Jordan Wood (210) and Zack Davis (275), with J.T. Cooley (110) and Mike Fretz (165) settling for seconds, Crosstown rival Boyertown West got gold from Garrett Mauger (95) and tournament OW Lance Kokonas (155), and seconds from Matt Wilde (75) and Andrew Fronheiser (130).

Pottstown, which had a strong showing and finished sixth, had two champions in Logan Pennypacker (85) and Bryant Wise (122), and two runners-up in Mason Pennypacker (95) and Bubba Gephart (115).

Arcola (Bryce Reddington at 85), Upper Perkiomen (Jake Folk at 90), Phoenixville (Max Sheperd at 80 and Mark Cermanski at 122), and Spring-Ford Blue (Danny Kelchner at 185) all had runners-up as well.


OJR not the only big cats at state duals

This article was originally published in the Feb. 9, 2012, edition of The Mercury.

HERSHEY – Every one of the Top 10 ranked teams in Pennsylvania are here. Actually, all but two of the Top 15 are here.

Owen J. Roberts is among them.
And, as usual, confident.

The Wildcats, a spotless 18-0 after Wednesday night’s win over Pottsgrove closed out their second straight unbeaten Pioneer Athletic Conference season, open their second straight appearance in the PIAA-Class AAA Team Duals this evening (6 p.m.) against Greensburg Salem.

But unlike a year ago, when they took on and nearly upset District 11 power Nazareth in a familiar and considerably friendlier environment (Methacton High School’s gym), the Wildcats will be dealing with the Golden Lions here at the Giant Center … a sprawling arena where many wrestling dreams begin but, unfortunately, end as nightmares.

Since 2005, when the state tournament went to a double-elimination format, Upper Perkiomen and Boyertown are the PAC-10’s only other Class AAA teams that have competed here. And only one, Upper Perkiomen’s powerhouse six years ago, survived the grind and won it all.

With the possible exception of the annual Powerade, there simply isn’t any collection of talent in any Pennsylvania setting – tournament, invitational or otherwise – that can measure up against what is here, year after year, in the state duals.

Owen J. Roberts, mind you, has certainly earned a spot in the 16-team field. Owen J. Roberts, mind you, belongs here.

But as good as the Wildcats are, everyone else – literally a Who’s Who in Pennsylvania Wrestling – is, too.

For starters, there are the top four teams situated in the rankings ahead of the No. 5 Wildcats. That elite foursome includes unbeaten No. 1 (and No. 5 in the nation) Canon McMillan (22-0); unbeaten No. 2 (and No. 25 in the nation as well as four-time defending duals champion) Central Dauphin (20-0); No. 3 (and four-time duals champion) Easton (19-2); and No. 4 Erie McDowell (14-1). If that group isn’t enough to rattle the wrestling nerves, there is No. 6 Norristown (9-1), which OJR outlasted in last Saturday’s District 1 final; No. 7 Mechanicsburg (14-1); No. 8 Big Spring (18-3), which eliminated Spring-Ford last year and Council Rock North this past Monday in a pair of opening-round thrillers; No. 9 Parkland (19-3), which eliminated Spring-Ford in the opening round this past Monday night; and No. 10 North Allegheny (17-4).

The rest of the field includes No. 12 Delaware Valley (17-4); unbeaten No. 13 Central Mountain (15-0); No. 15 Greensburg Salem (14-4); unbeaten No. 23 DuBois (13-0) and the only two unranked entries, La Salle (14-1) and Jersey Shore (12-4), who ironically, face off against one another tonight.

Almost forgot, more than 40 of the teams’ wrestlers are ranked among the Top 10 in their respective weight classes, too … including five returning state champions.

Owen J. Roberts faces a Lions’ lineup quite similar to its own – one with very few holes, or noticeable weak spots.

Greensburg Salem, which finished third in District 7, advanced through the opening round with a 60-16 laugher over District 8 champion Taylor Allderdice. There is strength down low with Austin Caldwell (31-11) and Carl Kelley (27-13) at 106 and 113, respectively; in the middle with Tyler Reinhart (35-5) and Zach Voytek (33-3) at 132 and 152; and up top with Anthony Calbe (26-6) and Tanner Hahn (34-4) at 170 and 220.

The Wildcats are likely to counter that select six with Aston White (19-6) and Derek Gulotta (20-6) at 106 and 113; with Demetri D’Orsaneo (22-8) and Kyle Shronk (25-6) at 132 and 152; and with Gordon Bolig (22-8) and either Jim Warta (27-6) or Brad Trego (22-9) at 170 and 220.

That leaves, of course, eight other bouts.

On paper, which resolves nothing, OJR should be favored in three of them with Colby Frank at 120, Adam Moser at 138, and Andrew Kinney at 145.

Head coach Steve DeRafelo’s concern will be the toss-ups – specifically at 126 with Dominick Petrucelli; at 160 with Mike Lenge; at 182 with either Tyler Rogers or Paul Minninger; at 195 with either Nick DeAngelo or Warta; and at 285 with either Trego or Kevin Kerwin.

* * *
OJR defeated Big Spring (31-25) in both teams’ very first match of the season at the Bealer Memorial Bear Duals in Boyertown. Both teams are situated in the upper-half of the AAA bracket. Big Spring has to deal with Easton in its opener. … Longtime Easton head coach Steve Powell is a graduate of Henderson, where he was a two-time section champion (1971-72) for the Warriors. … Central Dauphin, which swept its record fifth straight District 3 title last weekend, has won a state-record 93 straight dual matches. The Rams, who open tonight against Norristown, will likely put that streak on the line in an expected semifinal showdown with powerful Canon-McMillan, which shouldn’t have a problem with Parkland or the winner of the Delaware Valley-DuBois in getting to the semifinal round. The Macs have six wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the state, including defending state champions Connor Schram (120) and Cody Wiercioch (170). … The field’s other three returning state champions are Erie McDowell’s Steve Spearman (138), who is actually ranked second behind Canon-McMillan’s Solomon Chisko; Easton’s Mitchell Minotti (145); and Central Mountain’s Brian Brill (160).


Wildcats whopping opposition

This article was originally published in the Jan. 30, 2012, print edition of The Mercury.

What Owen J. Roberts has done this season – actually done in a little over a week – has a lot of wrestling fans talking. That’s fans in the Pioneer Athletic Conference and fans throughout District 1. And who knows, more than a few diehard matheads from around the state are probably talking about the Wildcats, too.

In a period of 11 days, OJR shut down rivals Upper Perkiomen (53-7) and Methacton (59-6), humbled Upper Darby (66-4) in its District 1-AAA Team Duals opener, and put a shellacking on Spring-Ford (52-8) in what was billed as the PAC-10 showdown – and rightfully so – but ended up as anything but.

Four duals against four quality opponents, 56 individual bouts ... and the Wildcats won 50 of them.

That’s impressive.
With undermanned but not-ready-to-roll-over Phoenixville and Pottsgrove remaining on the PAC-10 card, the Wildcats have a very good chance to do something no one has ever done since the league’s inaugural 1986-87 season – limit every opponent to single digits. Those strong Pottstown teams in the late 80s couldn’t do it, neither could any of Spring-Ford’s superb teams in the 90s. Upper Perkiomen failed to do it throughout its incredible nine-year run that ended in 2006. Even Boyertown was a bit more generous during its run the ensuing four years.

That’s even more impressive.
Right now, OJR’s average margin of victory in the PAC-10 is 59.1 points. Ironically, the league record is that exact same number, set in 2006 by Upper Perkiomen (against eight opponents, because Lansdale Catholic didn’t have a wrestling team at that time).

To say the Wildcats are good, or very good, would be an understatement, of course. Heck, one fan leaving the Spring-Ford High School gymnasium after Saturday’s matinee said “(Owen J. Roberts is) the best team (he’d) ever seen around here.”

For now – repeat, for now – that may be a bit of a stretch.

In other words, no one should get ahead of themselves. Even OJR head coach Steve DeRafelo would plead the fifth if questioned about that issue.

What the Wildcats have right now are movers-and-shakers, an aggressive gang ... all guts and no guile. They have a leader in Mike Lenge, who along with Andrew Kinney and Jim Warta, are the lone seniors to step on the mat this season. They also have what arguably is the most talented freshman class to ever come through this area – a group of freshmen who push those three seniors as well as every junior and sophomore in between – which provides a little insight as to how long the Wildcats could be good.

But just how good the Wildcats will be by season’s end – repeat, by season’s end – has yet to be determined.

Yes, they seem to have a lock on the PAC-10 title.

They want more, though.
The District 1-AAA Team Duals title is well within their reach, but they’ll have to get past Council Rock South, which has won three of the last five titles, in Friday’s quarterfinals; then either Rustin or Marple-Newtown in the semifinals before heading to bed for the night. Saturday, in all likelihood, they’ll get pin-machine Norristown in the final. That won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination. It never is at this point, otherwise more than three area teams – Methacton, Upper Perkiomen and Boyertown – would have the coveted hardware in their respective trophy cases.

So while fans continue to talk the talk, the Wildcats are hoping, and determined, to walk the walk.

* * *
Talking about some of the best, and having a little fun with it – put Upper Perkiomen’s lineup from the PIAA Duals final (a lopsided win over Easton) up against Owen J. Roberts’ lineup from Saturday’s match against Spring-Ford. … The weight classes are different, of course, but going head-to-head with no juggling, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch – at least on paper – to see each team having an edge in five bouts with four toss-ups. It would be interesting to hear what Upper Perkiomen’s Brent Fiorito and OJR’s Robert Hoffman had to say about it, though. Fiorito, who rolled up a major on Hoffman in the Indians’ 68-0 shutout of the Wildcats dual that season, went on to become the state champion at 160, while Hoffman finished seventh in the state at 152. Both are currently assistant coaches for their alma maters.

* * *
Feeling slighted? Pottsgrove’s Nico Demetrio may be. The 132-pound sophomore has recently won two tournaments and is 21-3 overall, but still ranked below No. 3 Demetri D’Orsaneo of Owen J. Roberts, No. 2 Trent Clifford of Pottstown, and No. 1 Wolfgang McStravick of Upper Perkiomen. Ironically, turn that order around and that’s who Demetrio – who has won 15 of his last 16 bouts – may be seeing before the regular season ends because Upper Perkiomen, Pottstown and OJR are up next on the Falcons’ schedule.

* * *
Rambling on… McStravick, a junior, is 21-1 (with 92 career wins). His lone loss was 5-3 to North Carolina state champion Chris Caton of Northside Christian two days before Christmas in the finals of the King of the Mat Tournament in N.C. ... Clifford and Pottstown teammate Rashaad Lighty have won 22 and 15 in a row, respectively. ... Pottsgrove’s Danny Michaels has won 18 straight. ... Two of the most versatile talents this winter have been OJR’s Brad Trego and Perkiomen Valley’s Chris Kline. Trego has been an integral part of the Wildcats’ run at 220 and 285, while Kline has worked anywhere from 170 up through 195 and won 12 of his last 13. ... One of the postseason’s most anticipated matchups – or rematches – could be at 152 between OJR’s Kyle Shronk (22-6) and Boyertown’s Jon Neiman (25-3). Shronk beat Neiman in a 3-1 thriller back on Jan. 4. Of the two rivals’ combined nine losses, five have come against state-ranked opponents.


Thanksgiving Day football lives on

This article was originally published in the Jan. 17, 2012, print edition of The Mercury.

Thanksgiving Day football is alive and well ... for another couple of years, perhaps longer.

For Owen J. Roberts and Pottstown, retaining their game – the area’s oldest Thanksgiving Day series – was a no-brainer. For Phoenixville and Spring-Ford, it took a little extra time and a whole lot of discussion about schedule commitments before officials from both schools agreed to continue their Thanksgiving Day series for at least two more years. The future of the third game, between Boyertown and Upper Perkiomen – which has been a fixture on the Thanksgiving Day card since the Bears returned to District 1 and became a member of the Pioneer Athletic Conference in 2002 – is still up in the air.

The area’s Thanksgiving football tradition appeared to be in serious jeopardy when a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association proposal to shorten the season from 16 to 15 weeks passed – nearly unanimously – through its first and second readings. However, during the PIAA Board of Directors meeting the weekend of the state final football championships in Hershey last month, the third and final reading failed to pass.

Representatives from several districts were taken aback by “new interpretations” of the proposal. Some suggested the shorter-season issue go back to each district for more discussion. Others said enough was enough already, that the 2012 schedules had to be drawn up and finished by February, so it was time to vote and get through the third and final reading.

Pennsylvania Coaches Representative Ron Kanaskie of Danville moved to table the third reading, but his motion failed. District 3’s Sam Elias moved to vote on the third reading.

They did ... and the proposal failed.

The result drew mixed reactions from coaches, administrators and fans around the Pioneer Athletic Conference (as well as around the entire state).

First of all, the 15-week season would have created scheduling problems for some PAC-10 schools, or at least those attempting to prioritize their postseason ambitions and respective Thanksgiving Day traditions. Had the proposal passed, all schools, including schools that do not play on Thanksgiving – Methacton, Perkiomen Valley, Pope John Paul II and Pottsgrove – would have had to go with one scrimmage, one non-league game and nine consecutive league games, or two scrimmages and nine consecutive league games, to fulfill their commitment to the league and finish by the final weekend of October. That would be the deadline because playoffs begin the following weekend, or a weekend earlier than the current postseason format.

The shortened season, without Thanksgiving Day games on the schedule, would also have meant no potential conflicts if a school played up to or through Thanksgiving. There actually haven’t been any such conflicts for the PAC-10’s current Class AAAA schools – Boyertown, Methacton, Owen J. Roberts, Perkiomen Valley and Spring-Ford – because four of five schools that have qualified for the playoffs have never won a postseason game in the big-school bracket, or played beyond the second weekend of November.

However, there have been a number of conflicts for other PAC-10 member schools – specifically Class AAA Phoenixville and Pottsgrove, as well as former member St. Pius X, which competed in Class AA as well as Class A before closing its doors in 2010 and merging with Kennedy-Kenrick at the new Pope John Paul II High School in Upper Providence Township.

Pottsgrove and Pius moved their Thanksgiving game up a day on two occasions because of playoff games either that following day or Saturday. The two teams’ went with junior varsity lineups for their final Thanksgiving meeting in 2009 because both the Falcons and Lions had playoff games that weekend.

The latest conflict occurred last November, when Phoenixville – after winning its first two postseason games to advance to the District 1-AAA final (against Pottsgrove) – had to play rival Spring-Ford at home on Thanksgiving eve, or two days before the championship showdown with Pottsgrove.

Those supporting the shortened season and abandoning altogether the Thanksgiving Day games, as well as those supporting the still intact 16-week season and retaining the Thanksgiving Day games, all have valid arguments.

However, exactly what you hear depends on what sideline you may be standing on.

Finding someone from Pottstown and Owen J. Roberts willing to exchange their 52-year-old Thanksgiving Day rivalry for a shorter season and possible long playoff run would be difficult.

“As most know, our game is more than just a game to the people in our communities,” said Owen J. Roberts athletic director Dave Strock, who lined up for three of them as a former Wildcat back in the mid 60s. “It was good to know the (district representatives) throughout Pennsylvania were able to see the negative impact (the 15-week season) would have had on some programs, schools and communities.”

Pottstown athletic director Pat Connors wasn’t even aware there was a possible issue.

“The game is on our schedule (for 2012) like it always has been,” Connors explained recently. “We were aware of the (shortened-season) proposal, and if things had changed we would’ve dealt with them. But nothing’s really changed for us.”

OJR head coach Tom Barr was quite happy to hear the Trojans will be making their scheduled Thanksgiving morning visit to Bucktown next November.

“The schedule is staying status quo, so we’re happy we’re keeping the Thanksgiving game,” said Tom Barr, who played in three of the games as a Wildcat and has guided his team in the past 15 meetings with Pottstown. “I would like to continue the game. I believe there are a lot of members of the community who enjoy watching the game on those Thursday mornings, and I am one of them.

“I enjoy the tradition. Many players walk away with great memories of their last game on Thanksgiving Day. It is not your typical game.”

The future of the Boyertown-Upper Perkiomen game on Thanksgiving hasn’t yet been decided. Upper Perkiomen is currently in the process of finding a new head coach following the resignation of Keith Leamer. Nonetheless, Bears head coach Mark Scisly is hoping to see the Thanksgiving Day series continue.

“Thanksgiving is a great tradition and I hope we continue it,” said Scisly, who just completed his fourth season with the Bears. “Football is more important to Thanksgiving than turkey and cranberry sauce. As far as I know, the only way we will stop playing (on Thanksgiving) is if we have no one to play.

“I am just glad the PIAA decided not to change the schedule. Some people say the football season is too long. But if you really think about it, only eight (state final) teams are affected by the extra week. So, are we going to make a change because eight teams are affected? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Last November, Phoenixville head coach Bill Furlong had to prepare his Phantoms for three games – the district semifinal against Academy Park, the PAC-10 season finale with Spring-Ford, and the district final against Pottsgrove – in a period of nine days.

Despite that unenviable challenge, Furlong still has an open mind about Thanksgiving Day football.

“I could go either way,” he said. “The fact I don’t have the final say makes me not really feel strongly either way, too. I know as a district we are in favor of keeping it, and I go along with that. There are many positives playing (on Thanksgiving). If other people involved felt differently, I wouldn’t mind (not playing), too.

“I try to make the best of things, so if you tell me I have to play I can find many good reasons to (play). On the other hand, if you told me the game was not going to happen (on Thanksgiving) I could see advantages to that, too.”

If anyone could empathize with Furlong and the challenge his Phantoms faced, it was Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker.

“I did not envy the position Phoenixville was in,” Brubaker explained. “There is a reason football games are scheduled one week apart. It’s a physical game, and it’s an understatement to say I wouldn’t be completely comfortable with our kids playing Wednesday and then again on Friday or Saturday.

“And that’s not even taking into consideration putting together and implementing a game plan. How do you prepare for a district championship game in two days? How do you compete with two district playoff-caliber teams in a matter of days? We hand out a 10-page game plan for each game with new plays, looks, stunts, etc. Now you go into the most important game of the year and have the least time to prepare?”

All good points.
And all good points about an imposing challenge that former St. Pius coaches Dave Bodolus and George Parkinson as well as Pottsgrove head coach Rick Pennypacker had to deal with in the past, like Furlong had to deal with back in November.

“It’s unfortunate that any of us are in this situation,” said an area coach, who asked to remain anonymous. “A lot of us (coaches) have played in a Thanksgiving game. We know how big a game, how big an event, it is. The idea of our football season ending in October, not playing football in November ... I don’t know how well that will go over in the community. It’s really a delicate issue.”

An issue that’s settled, but only settled for the time being.


Sectionals out, league tourneys in

This column was originally published on Jan. 13, 2012, in the print edition of The Mercury.

If wrestling ever needed a proverbial shot of enthusiasm in its collective arm – especially after the controversial change in weight classes prior to the current season – it got one Wednesday.

District 1 got one, that is.

The District 1 Wrestling Steering Committee approved a proposal to eliminate the current six sectionals and replace them with league championships, which will determine the qualifiers for two – or possibly three – district tournaments beginning next year.

The change, announced by steering committee chairman Dennis Kellon, still has a few minor issues to be addressed, namely the number of qualifiers from each league. However, it has become apparent coaches and administrators from around the district strongly support the move.

“The steering committee presented the proposal to the District 1 Board of Directors last year,” Kellon explained. “The board’s response was that it needed time to look at it, to review it. Our only concern was that we wanted to get it done before this month.”

Kellon, along with several coaches who helped develop the proposal, met with the board this past fall. The board supported the proposal and gave the steering committee the opportunity to move forward.

The idea of changing the first step in the postseason grind – which includes districts and regionals prior to the state championships – shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone affiliated with or a fan of District 1 wrestling. Declining attendances and rising costs at sectional tournaments in recent years have been a major concern.

“Every year we sit down at the end of the season and talk about all the tournaments,” Kellon said. “We’ve come up with all sorts of ideas in the past, like realigning the sections, going with two big sectional tournaments…

“We also look at the financial reports, which are part of our review every year but not a big part of it. Yes, attendances have been down, revenues have been down. At no time did (District 1 officials) say, ‘change.’ But we felt we had to look for ways to rectify those situations, too. We thought this was a time that we could be proactive.”

Upper Perkiomen head coach Tom Hontz, who along with Spring-Ford head coach Tim Seislove was instrumental in creating the new postseason proposal, sees the change as a positive one.

“I’m sure some people will groan about the lost tradition of the sections, but change can be good and I think fans will come to appreciate this new format,” Hontz said. “Also, I think you’ll see some of the great league rivalries become even more intense.”

At one time, like when Hontz wrestled for Quakertown High School back in the early 1980s, most of the sections consisted of league rivals. Through the years, due to occasional realignments within most of the sections, members of leagues have been moved around.

In the PAC-10, for instance, eight of its current AAA teams are split up in Section Two (Phoenixville, Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen), Section Three (Methacton and Perkiomen Valley) and Section Four (Boyertown, Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford).

“Because of the realignments, a lot of the league rivalries have become lost, and some of the fan interest has been lost, too,” Hontz said. “This is a great way to liven up the first round of the postseason.”

The tentative league championship formats – tentative being the operative word – are as follows:

* Pioneer Athletic Conference would get four qualifiers; the Central League would get five qualifiers; and the Ches-Mont League would get six qualifiers. The three leagues would advance their respective qualifiers to the District 1-AAA South Tournament.

Nine of the PAC-10’s member schools are Class AAA, with Pope John Paul II – by virtue of the new enrollment classifications released last week – being Class AA. The Central League has 12 teams, all AAA. The Ches-Mont League will have the option of running two tournaments (one each for the National and American divisions), in which each division would get three qualifiers. If the Ches-Mont would run one tournament it would get six qualifiers.

* The Suburban One Conference would get 11 qualifiers – four each from the National and Continential divisions and three from the American Division. The Del Val League would get two or three qualifiers. Suburban One and Del Val would advance their respective qualifiers to the District 1-AAA North Tournament.

All 23 of the Suburban One’s member schools are Class AAA, as are the five in the Del Val League.

As previously mentioned, the officials’ plan is for 16-man brackets in each of the district championships, so adjusting the number of qualifiers for each league – or possibly having first-round byes for the individual top-seeds in each weight class – is one of the issues to be further discussed and approved.

“The number of qualifiers would be adjusted,” Kellon explained. “We’re looking for that balance. We’re looking at the number of teams in each league, the number of wrestlers they’ll bring to districts.

“But strength of schedule, for one thing, will have nothing to do with how (we adjust the qualifiers). We have to make it fair for everyone.”

Kellon also said returning to the three-district format – North, South and Central, which ran for three years from 2007 through 2009 – has been discussed as well.

“It’s a possibility,” he admitted. “But I know most of us prefer to go to with two districts, two sites … six (qualifiers) from each, along with the four coming in from District 12, to give us the 16-man bracket for the (Southeast Regional).”

Kellon did not know when all the “Ts” will be crossed and all the “Is” would be dotted on the new format. But his excitement was already noticeable.

“Very honestly, we anticipate the attendances to be good and the enthusiasm to escalate at the league championships,” he said.

The District 1 section tournaments were first held in 1971. There were eight sectional tournaments the first three years, but beginning in 1974 that number was reduced to six – and remained unchanged through the current 2011-2012 season. … Ridley (19), Conestoga (17), North Penn (17), the former Downingtown High School (15), and Methacton (15) own the most section team titles.