Morenci and Fayette to join sports programs 2009.04.01

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The boys basketball rivalry between Morenci and Fayette resumed just two seasons ago and the girls teams might begin play for the first time next season, but all of that is on hold.

Instead, it appears likely the two schools are headed for a cooperative venture that would soon put them on the same end of the court.

Both boards of education are tentatively favoring a plan that would combine the sports programs of the two neighboring school districts. The move is expected to save money for both cash-strapped districts while improving the competitiveness of the athletic programs.

“We’ve seen this sort of arrangement for years in Lenawee County,” said Morenci’s athletic director Tim Kruse. “Britton and Deerfield are combining all of their teams. Madison and Sand Creek have combined their wrestling in the past and Madison and Lenawee Christian used to combine their track teams.”flyingbullfrog3.jpg

However, the cross-border and cross-league factors in this arrangement will bring some extra challenges, he said.

Both districts have experienced falling enrollment and lack of participation on some sports teams, noted Fayette superintendent Russ Griggs.

“Fayette doesn’t even have baseball this year and the track teams aren’t large enough to fill every event,” he said. “Fayette doesn’t even have its own track. I hear that Morenci’s isn’t much better, but they’re getting a new one this summer.”

Griggs said the districts’ athletic directors are still talking about how to choose coaches—either a lottery system or an examination of win/loss records.

A highlight of the decision for Fayette would be fulfillment of the long-held desire for a football team. Football, along with wrestling and bowling, could begin without any trouble since only Morenci currently sponsors those sports. Similarly, Morenci athletes could jump right into the ping-pong program being established in Fayette.

Others, like basketball, cross country and volleyball, are going to take some effort to make it work.

Fayette athletic director Dave Hoste has been in contact with Jessie Jokeen at the Ohio High School Athletic Association who likes the idea of a dual-state partnership. Jokeen said it will take some finagling but he wants to make it work.

The biggest trouble, he said, will come locally with league play.

Kruse and Hoste have spoken with other league officials and are working on a plan where half of a season will be played against the Buckeye Border Conference teams and the other half with the Tri-County Conference. A formula will determine how much of the win or loss is credited to each league standing.

“We could end up winning league titles in both conferences,” Hoste said.

Post-season tournament play is likely to go to Michigan where the competition is generally easier—four divisions of cross country and track, for example, compared to three in Ohio.

There’s already been talk about a new mascot.

“The TCC has two Bulldogs and the BBC has two Eagles,” said Morenci superintendent Kyle Griffith, “so we wanted to get away from that and come up with something unique.”

There’s also a desire to keep some elements of each school’s heritage, he said, and that’s led to the Flying Bullfrogs.

“I bet you won’t find another one of those,” Griffith said.

After months of closed-door negotiations, both boards are expected to approve the proposal this spring and scheduling would begin for the fall season.

Even though it’s only a proposal at this point, Morenci’s new football coach Tom Saylor has been spotted in the Fayette parking lot after school sizing up some new recruits.

“I’ll be lucky if I have 20 kids from Morenci this fall,” Coach Saylor said. “I like the way this is looking. I like it a whole lot.”

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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