Enrietto: Courts ultimately got it right
Butler’s football team had to earn its way into the District 10 playoffs — on the field and through the court system.
After filing for an injunction and going through two hearings, the Golden Tornado were finally granted permission to take on McDowell for the district’s Class 6A championship Friday night. It was the right decision.
But it is a thought-provoking one.
Butler advanced to postseason play with a 4-6 overall record. No big deal there. Plenty of high school teams have done that. In fact, teams have qualified with a 2-7 record before.
Seneca Valley did not qualify for the WPIAL 6A playoffs despite a 6-4 overall record. Arguably, the Raiders are the most talented football team in Butler County this year (though Freeport was the most dominant in its division). SV owns a 42-7 win at Butler this season.
So is it fair that the Raiders — who stayed in the WPIAL — be left out of the playoffs while Butler — which left the WPIAL — got to play on? Well, yes and no.
One can say yes because Butler won the game it had to win, defeating Etrie, to get to the District 10 playoffs. Seneca Valley had to win one of its last two, against Central Catholic or North Allegheny, to get in. The Raiders lost two heartbreakers.
One can say no because SV clearly had the tougher path. But districts differ in degree of difficulty in every sport throughout the state. Neither the WPIAL nor District 10 has many 6A teams. Pennsylvania doesn’t need six divisions in high school sports.
But that’s another argument for another day.
Butler decided to leave the WPIAL to save its football program. After the 2019 season, the Tornado were down to 23 players and in danger of having to drop football in 2020 had it decided to stay in WPIAL 6A. That would have denied some student athletes scholarship opportunities in the sport.
Butler opted to play an independent schedule. The opportunity to become an associate member of District 10 in football came up, making it easier to compile a schedule, and Butler jumped on it. No one can fault the school district there.
The move to District 10 saved the Butler football program. Roster numbers shot up to 70. The Tornado qualified for the playoffs two straight years. This switch in districts proved to be a wise one.
At some point, Butler football will likely return to the WPIAL. There should be no hard feelings when that happens.
The PIAA should have lived with the original ruling from the hearing nine days ago. It had an opportunity to deny Butler District 10 playoff participation in 2021 and looked the other way. That’s on them.
To appeal that original ruling and keep two high school football teams — Butler and Erie — in limbo just 24 hours before kickoff was ridiculous. It was shameful, actually. Not a good look.
Be it an individual or organization, sometimes we lose in life.
One should lose with dignity, not idesperation.
John Enrietto is sports editor of the Butler Eagle