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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016