UPDATE: Union School Board Approves Co-Op Agreement with A-C Valley
A-C Valley had approved the co-op at its meeting Tuesday.
“We are looking to sustain programs,” Union superintendent Jean McCleary told EYT media prior to the meeting. “Because of both enrollment and participation, both A-C Valley and Union are having trouble sustaining numbers. In doing the co-ops, we are looking to sustain the programs.”
According to the co-op agreement, which still must be approved by the PIAA at both the state and District 9 levels, Union will serve as the host school for football with A-C Valley serving as the host school for cross country and golf.
“It will act as a wonderful segue for these three sports for the next two years,” McCleary said earlier Thursday. “We had a co-op with A-C Valley in junior-high football this year, and that went very well.”
Both football programs were struggling to field full rosters at the junior-high level leading to the junior-high co-op. Union had 16 players in August for junior-high football, and A-C Valley had 15.
Numbers at the varsity level, while better, still were somewhat concerning.
Football rosters submitted to D9Sports.com for the 2015 season showed A-C Valley with 25 players, including four from the Mid-Atlantic Youth Services in Emlention, with 10 of the 25 being seniors. Union’s football roster, meanwhile, had 31 players with 10 being seniors.
While the plan in football is for Union to be the host school, homes games will be played at both schools in as even of a split as possible, according to McCleary. The uniform will include colors from both schools, and there is a hope that there will be coaches from both schools as well.
Golf and cross country would be housed at A-C Valley with the school’s proximity to Foxburg Country Club, which would serve as the home base for both sports.
The PIAA could start the approval process as soon as next week, according to District 9 Committeeman Bob Tonkin.
“It’s generally a formality,” Tonkin said of PIAA approval. “If the schools get the paperwork in, the PIAA, at the state level, could act on it at its meeting next week. Our next District 9 meeting is Feb. 9, and we could vote on it at that meeting.”
For A-C Valley, this is the second time the school will be part of a football co-op. The school had a cooperative agreement with Cranberry from the mid-1990s through the 2011 season when Cranberry left to co-op with Oil City. In that co-op, all games were played at A-C Valley since Cranberry doesn’t have a football field.
Co-ops aren’t all that rare in District 9 with 14 of the District’s 36 schools co-opting in football with 12 doing so with another District 9 school and two with Oil City. The co-ops involving two District 9 schools include (host school first) Ridgway and Johnsonburg, Clarion and North Clarion, Coudersport and Austin, Otto-Eldred and Oswayo Valley, Kane and East Forest and Brockway and DuBois Central Catholic. Both Cranberry and Venango Catholic co-op with District 10’s Oil City.
The Union/A-C Valley co-op appears to more closely resemble the Ridgway/Johnsonburg co-op where Ridgway is the home school but two games a year are played in Johnsonburg. In the other co-ops, the host schools host all of the games. It should be noted, however, that in those co-ops, the non-hosting co-op didn’t have football prior to the cooperative agreement.
NOTES – A-C Valley’s football program has struggled in recent years and will finish with a 32-game losing streak including 0-10 in 2015. It was the second 30-plus game losing streak for the program since 2005. From 2005-2010 the Falcons dropped 46 in a row. The school’s football program hasn’t had a winning season since 1999 when it went 7-4. Since then, the Falcons are 16-130 … Union, which had a 30-game losing streak of its own from 2002-2005, has seen success the last five years under head coach Dave Louder going 31-24 with four consecutive District 9 Class A playoff appearances from 2011-2014 including a semifinal appearance in 2014. This year, the Golden Knights were 5-5 and missed the D9 postseason by a game.
Story by Chris Rossetti
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