Shiley looks for running room

Jonathan Guth | Herald-Standard

Uniontown’s Jake Shiley looks for running room during a Big East Conference game against Elizabeth Forward at Warriors Stadium last year. The Red Raiders will play a five-game independent schedule in 2020 that includes a trip to York Run to face nearby rival Albert Gallatin on Oct. 9.

While Uniontown students are in the process of dealing with online classes and homework, D.J. Burns recently was given his own tough assignment to complete.

The Uniontown administrative athletic director had to piece together an independent football schedule for the Red Raiders, a difficult task at this juncture that he finalized on Friday.

Uniontown’s opener will take place on Sept. 25 at Ringgold.

The Uniontown school district originally opted to cancel its football season but reversed that decision on Aug. 28. The Red Raiders had already been removed from the WPIAL schedule, though, meaning they were left out of the Class 4A Big Eight Conference.

Burns fashioned a five-game schedule that does include games against four conference opponents, including the Rams, but those games will not count in the Big Eight standings.

“It’s taken a tremendous effort having to create independent schedules with all the moving parts and COVID-19 restrictions from an operational standpoint,” Burns said. “Not to mention the low number of PIAA certified officials this year.

“Change has been the only constant.”

Burns, who is still in the process of completing schedules for Uniontown’s boys and girls soccer teams, did add a football game that will likely please Fayette County fans. Uniontown will travel to Albert Gallatin on Oct. 9.

“It’s an area team which is a nice thing,” Red Raiders football coach Cedric Lloyd said. “I think that will be a good game. The coach is doing a real good job over there. That’s a community challenge for us, in a sense.”

In between the Ringgold and Albert Gallatin games, Uniontown will play its only home contest on Oct. 2 against Thomas Jefferson, the defending WPIAL and PIAA champion.

The Red Raiders close out their season with road games against West Mifflin on Oct. 16 and against perennial power Belle Vernon on Oct. 23.

All five games kick off at 7 p.m.

When he informed his players that there would, after all, be a football season, Lloyd was pleased with their response.

“There was excitement across the board,” Lloyd said. “You could see the kids wanted to play. They’re very grateful for the opportunity and they’ve been working hard.”

The Red Raiders are now far behind all other high school football teams in terms of preparation but Lloyd is just happy the school district had a change of heart and will allow his program to compete this fall.

“We’re looking at it that kids will get some experience, without a doubt,” Lloyd said. “That’s better than not playing at all and losing an entire season. We’re going to attack each week to come out and do the very best that we can, and, hopefully, challenge that team to be the best that they can be.”

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