NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) – When the Redbank Valley administration first received the letter from the PIAA informing them that the football program had triggered the body’s “Competition Formula” and would be required to move up to Class 2A, the wheels went into motion to appeal.
Redbank’s recent success on the football field – a trip to the Class A state quarterfinals in 2020 and a run all the way to the Class A state title game this fall – gave the Bulldogs enough competitive balance points to prompt the PIAA to take a look at their roster.
A very cursory look.
The PIAA compared rosters from several seasons and flagged nine players on the Bulldogs’ roster as potential transfers. Three or more transfers make the move up in class mandatory. Problem was Redbank Valley had just one.
That was the basis for the appeal.
Redbank Valley athletic director and principal Roddy Hartle gathered transcripts detailing that those nine players were longtime residents within the district.
Thursday the PIAA heard Redbank’s appeal and sided with the school.
The Bulldogs will remain in Class A.
“I understand the intention of the competitive balance rule, and I support the PIAA’s efforts to regulate transfers flowing into programs that are winning year in and year out,” said Redbank Valley football coach Blane Gold. “In our case, Marquese Gardlock was our only transfer and he did everything the PIAA requires when he came here.”
Gardlock made a big impact during the last two seasons after sitting out in all sports during his sophomore year per PIAA rules. When he was out for several games during this year’s district playoffs, Redbank kept rolling.
“Marquese was indispensable to our success,” Gold said. “We also had a team that was deep enough to win the district when Marquese wasn’t able to participate in any of our district playoff games. That deep roster was compiled of homegrown kids that have played together their entire lives. I didn’t want that to be lost in the process. They’ve been raised by this community since the moment they learned to walk.”
Redbank Valley is comfortably under the 123-student cutoff to remain in Class A.
The Bulldogs, though, may play more Class 2A teams next year if a tentative schedule is accepted.
Redbank plans on playing Karns City, Punxsutawney, Central Clarion and Brookville.
Gold said he was relieved the PIAA sided with Redbank Valley.
“We should be competing at the A level,” Gold said. “I’m glad the PIAA agreed after viewing our appeal.”