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Clarion, C-L School Boards Appear Set to Vote on Football Co-op on Tuesday

Monday, January 14, 2019 @ 12:01 AM

Posted by Chris Rossetti

Ayden Wiles C-L Archer Mills ClarionCLARION, Pa. (D9Sports) – Votes on whether or not Clarion and Clarion-Limestone will play football together under a PIAA cooperative agreement appear as if they will take place on Tuesday, January 15, when both districts’ school boards gather at separate meetings.

Clarion-Limestone’s board meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the high school gym, while Clarion’s board meeting is set for 7:00 p.m. in the LGI Room on the second floor of the high school.

C-L superintendent Amy Glasl confirmed to that the vote on the co-op is planned for its board meeting, while Clarion Area Junior-Senior High School principal John Kimmel said that “pending some minor discussion over the next week,” the plan is for there to a be a vote at the Clarion board meeting, as well.

The two schools have been in discussions about combining the football programs over the past few months. North Clarion, which currently co-ops with Clarion, would also be part of the newly formed co-op. The most common reason given for adding Clarion-Limestone to the mix is a lack of students who play football at C-L. The Lions had between 16 to 20 players on the active roster this past season.

“We are hopeful that an agreement reached which will allow us to continue the process of submitting an application to the PIAA,” Kimmel said. “We held some conversations on Tuesday (January 8) in our work session about a cooperative agreement with C-L, which was very positive. There were some members of the community who spoke in favor of the agreement with many positive sentiments. It seems as if nearly all those people who spoke feel that bringing the C-L and Clarion football players together starting next year is in the best interest of our athletes and the community as a whole.”

Even if both boards approve the co-op agreement, the PIAA, starting with District 9 and then continuing with the Commonwealth governing body, would need to approve the agreement before it can become official.

By PIAA by-laws, Clarion would have to be the host school of the co-op during the 2019 season because the PIAA uses two-year classification cycles that started this past year, and 2019 will be the second year of the classification cycle. While the PIAA would prefer that co-ops begin at the start of the classification cycle, they do allow them in the middle of the classification cycle. However, if the co-op being formed would change the host school’s classification (Class 1A through Class 6A), then the athletic program in question (in this case football) would not be allowed to participate in either the District or PIAA playoffs.

The Clarion/North Clarion co-op, hosted by Clarion, is currently classified as Class 2A, while C-L is classified as Class 1A. Adding C-L to the Clarion/North Clarion co-op with Clarion as the host school keeps the program as a Class 2A team and eligible to participate in the postseason. If C-L were to host the program in 2019, the program would be Class 2A as well, but since C-L is currently classified as Class 1A, the program would not be eligible for the postseason.

According to all involved, if the co-op is approved for 2019, the districts will take a second look at the host school situation prior to the start of the next two-year cycle, which will run from 2020-2021. At that time, the potential for a new team name and mascot would also be discussed.

While some details are still being worked out, it appears that Clarion would hire the coaches and have final say over the program during the 2019 season, although a joint committee with representatives from both school districts would be able to provide input and advice in any decisions made with the program.

In previous discussions by D9Sports with Clarion head coach Larry Wiser and Clarion-Limestone head coach Dave Eggleton, both coaches have expressed support of a combined program and most likely both coaches would be involved in a co-op program.

According to North Clarion athletic director Bonnie Wolbert, her belief is that the North Clarion School District would not have to re-approve the co-op from its end. She cited the current wrestling co-op as an example. North Clarion and Clarion were already co-oping in wrestling heading into this year and Keystone was added. Wolbert said North Clarion didn’t have to vote to remain part of that co-op.

Clarion and C-L already co-op in wrestling (Clarion host school), boys’ soccer (C-L host school) and girls’ soccer (Clarion host school). There have been preliminary discussions to add additional sports programs as co-ops including possibly baseball, softball, cross country, and track and field.

Co-ops in a variety of sports aren’t new to District 9.

Currently, there are eight football co-ops of one kind or another including Clarion (with North Clarion), Union and A-C Valley (playing under the Union/A-C Valley moniker), Coudersport (with Austin), Brockway (with DuBois Central Catholic), Ridgway (with Johnsonburg), Otto-Eldred (with Oswayo Valley), Kane (with East Forest), and Sheffield (with Abraxas). There have also been some discussions about Cameron County and St. Marys co-oping, although any movement on that won’t take place until the 2020 season because it would change St. Marys’ classification.

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