FALCONER - Yet another combined Section 6 football program will take the field at the start of the 2014-15 school year.
An agreement to merge the varsity and junior varsity football programs of Falconer Central School and Cassadaga Valley Central School has been approved.
The arrangement marks the first time Falconer has merged any of its fall sports programs, but an underwhelming projection in the way of student participation has forced the district's proverbial hand. According to Stephen Penhollow, Falconer superintendent, the district was faced with participation numbers of only half the amount required to sustain a football program; which meant the decision to combine ended up being no decision at all in the scheme of things.
"This was kind of a joint agreement," Penhollow said. "Both districts needed a little help, but we would have needed more (than Cassadaga Valley)."
Penhollow said Falconer's football projections constituted between 10 and 12 students for both the varsity and junior varsity teams. Ideally, he said, a minimum of 22 players should be on each roster but, regardless, the shortfall was too great for Falconer to have any hope of supporting and sustaining a football program with the numbers it had.
Penhollow said Cassadaga Valley had the numbers to sustain its own program this year, but would have been cutting it close. Consequently, he said the merger was the right move to make in the interest of both districts.
"I think it's an advantage to both Falconer and Cassadaga Valley in that our goal is to provide opportunities for our student athletes," Penhollow said. "And this is a great opportunity for our kids to still be able to participate in athletics, specifically football, even though our numbers would not have allowed us to sustain a safe program."
Penhollow said the agreement was approved by Falconer's Board of Education during its Feb. 4 meeting. He said the board had previously hosted two parent meetings in which it laid out the situation for the coming year, and the response it received from parents was amenable.
"I credit our community with being realistic about where we are," Penhollow said, adding that the district is evaluating methods of encouraging more student participation in athletics and retaining the athletes it currently has.
The districts also agreed to combine varsity football cheerleading, boys modified and varsity soccer, and cross country as part of the shared services agreement.
The Cassadaga Valley Board of Education announced the agreement during its regular meeting Monday. According to Thomas Schmidt, Cassadaga Valley interim superintendent, the agreement is intended to operate under a 50/50 split with both districts hosting sports.
Cassadaga Valley was said to be the host school for boys junior varsity and varsity football along with varsity football cheerleading, while Falconer will play host to boys modified and varsity soccer, and cross country.
Schmidt also said Cassadaga Valley cheerleaders will cheer at both Cassadaga Valley home games and Falconer home games.