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.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017