1. How will Kayla Briggs adjust to being Chartiers-Houston's full-time pitcher?
Considering Briggs pitches full-time for travel teams and pitched the Bucs out of several tight positions in postseason games, chances are good C-H will once again be among the top teams in Class A.
Briggs batted .646 as a sophomore, but as a relief pitcher during her freshman season Briggs went 1-0 with eight saves and a 0.38 ERA.
Chartiers-Houston ran through WPIAL competition last year, claiming a district title with an undefeated record. The Bucs finished 22-1 but lost their bid to repeat as PIAA champion with a one-run loss to Clarion in the state semifinals.
2. Will relay teams drop the baton or repeat as champions?
Ringgold's 400 relay team won a WPIAL Class AAA championship, while Washington 1,600 relay team won WPIAL Class AA gold and set a championship meet record in the process last May.
Ringgold must wait a month before its regular 4x100 relay team of Quad Law, Alfon Cook, Joey Walls and Demetrius Louis run together as Law is set for knee surgery to remove loose cartilegde from an injury in ninth grade. Louis, who finished second in the 100 dash at the WPIAL championships, is set to return from January shoulder surgery.
The Prexies return Mykhael Kelley, Jordan Thomas, Darius Spinks and Dustin Fuller from a 1,600 relay team that predicted it would set and WPIAL meet record last year and did with a time of 3:26.41. The relay team has established a goal of winning PIAA gold this spring.
3. Can Washington County really be the nation's premier area for girls javelin?
With Fort Cherry's Jessie Merckle and the Canon-McMillan duo of Mira Carrozza and Anna Lombardo, it may well be.
Merckle is a two-time WPIAL Class AA champion, a PIAA silver medalist and a Wake Forest recruit. Carrozza was a WPIAL Class AAA silver medalist last spring and signed with South Florida. Both are considered among the top 10 high school female javelin throwers in the nation.
Lomardo, also a senior, is just outside the top 10 rankings. Lombardo placed 12th at the USATF National Junior Olympics Outdoor Track & Field Championships last July. Merckle PR'd at the event and placed second. Carrozza was 23rd, while Peters Township graduate Kaitlyn Brace (Purdue University) was third.
4. Is Peters Township baseball rebuilding or reloading?
A senior-heavy lineup put runs up in bunched for Peters Township, which lost to Seneca Valley in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game and the PIAA quarterfinals. Observer-Reporter Player of the Year Justin Bianco was drafted in the third round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Brady Sheetz, Austin Hancock and Will McClure put up big numbers and Ryan Minteer pitched in nearly every big game.
All five have graduated, but the Indians return Andrew Erenberg. He batted .434 with 28 runs and 20 RBI as a junior. Pitcher Mike Bittel, a Seton Hill recruit, will take on an increased load as the Indians will have to win more low-scoring games than it did the past two years.
5. Can the baseball teams at Waynesburg and Chartiers-Houston duplicate last year's success?
Waynesburg reached the WPIAL Class AA championship game last spring and Chartiers-Houston was the surprise of Class A as it reached the championship game at Consol Energy Park.
Both the Raiders and Bucs return a bulk of talent from last year's teams, which were upended in the first round of the state playoffs. Both also have new coaches.
Kevin Pincavitch. a Mapletown graduate and former member of the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system, is in his first season as Raiders coach. Adam Petras is the new coach at C-H.
Waynesburg will be among the favorites in Class AA with a group of returners which includes Stephen McCaw, Joe Monica and Alex Swauger. Chartiers-Houston won't surprise anyone this year as it returns top pitchers Dylan Pounds and Josh Counihan.