Morenci and Fayette might merge sports programs 4.1.09

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.

flyingbullfrog3.jpgBoth 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.”

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.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
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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