With the WPIAL adopting the state's six-classification setup for high school football in 2016, the entire gridiron landscape looks dramatically different. Nevertheless, fans of teams in the Post-Gazette's North coverage area should still expect to see some traditional rivalries and the usual Friday night thrills.
Butler, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler, which all participated in the Northern Eight Conference last year, are staying together in Class 6A's Northern Seven Conference. Defending state champion Central Catholic and Penn Hills make up the rest of the conference. The Post-Gazette put Central Catholic at No. 1 with Pine-Richland and North Allegheny following, respectively, in its annual preseason rankings. One player to definitely look out for will be Phil Jurkovec. Pine-Richland's junior quarterback was electric in his first year as a starter last season by throwing for more than 2,500 yards and rushing for close to 1,300 yards. Jurkovec, however, is one of just four returning starters for the Rams. North Allegheny is also hoping to compete in this mega-conference. The Tigers welcome back a wealth of experience on both of offense and defense.