Pine Valley approves football merger

SOUTH DAYTON – Pine Valley football players will be playing alongside Gowanda players this upcoming season. The Pine Valley Board of Education approved interim Superin-tendent David Kurzawa to sign a shared athletic program agreement with Gowanda Central School Thursday.

Pine Valley announced earlier this week the football season would be canceled. According to Board of Education President Rex Butcher, only about 10 players were interested in playing for the varsity team. Due to Section 6 requirements, JV players cannot be counted toward the varsity roster. Football numbers are down from 2011 which saw 40 football players, 26 players in 2012 and 24 players in 2013.

Butcher said the agreement is “making the best of a bad situation.”

Board member Patricia Krenzer asked if the players will have enough practices to play in the opening game of the season. Butcher said the students have been practicing throughout the week and will continue throughout this weekend. They will start practicing with Gowanda on Monday with transportation provided by the district.

“They should have enough (practices) for the first game,” Butcher said.

The agreement with Gowanda is only a one year agreement and the board of education will re-evaluate the status of the football program. As board member Stephen Raiport pointed out, the students are “still a panther” playing with Gowanda just wearing different colored uniforms. Janie Waag, board member, said the district is giving students an opportunity to play which is what sharing a team is all about.

Football coach Eric Zollinger said about a dozen students have shown interest to play for Gowanda – four freshmen, two sophomores, one junior and five seniors. Zollinger said he is more than willing to work with the Gowanda coaches this upcoming season. He also thanked the board of education for all their support in the past.

“Just on behalf of the coaches and the team, I would like to thank the board for all the work you did through this past year to support football as long as we could right up until the last minute. I’m definitely looking forward to our new opportunity to go with Gowanda,” he said.

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