After an absence of more than 30 years, football may be returning to Schoharie Central School.
The Indians would not be fielding their own team, but a combined JV team is being proposed starting this fall.
Ken Meyer of the Helderberg Pop Warner football program told Schoharie school board members last week that several Schoharie students play in their program and after the age of 12, few play organized football again.
Many of those students want to continue to play football and may get a chance if Schoharie and Duanesburg central schools agree to have a combined JV football team starting this fall.
Mr. Meyer said the Helderberg Valley Pop Warner program has been in operation since 2005 and many of those players are from Schoharie.
The new JV team, he said, could be in place, at no cost to the taxpayers or district, by the fall. The team would be open to all high school students, including girls.
The JV program, which still has to be approved by both school districts and Section II, would place the new unnamed team among Class B schools such as Cobleskill-Richmondville, Schlamont and Broadalbin-Perth. The enrollment in both high schools (which play in Class C sports) is about 300 each, which would push the JV team into Class B.
Eventually, with Section II approval, the program could be made a varsity sport.
The Pop Warner program already has $11,000 in the bank for the JV program, Mr. Meyer said.
The cost for the first year would be about $11,100, he said, and include salaries for coaches, assistants, officials, transportation and insurance. Coaches have already agreed to turn back their salaries.
State-of-the-art equipment would cost about $7,250 but should be a one-time cost, Mr. Meyer said.
Mr. Meyer, who spoke to the Duanesburg school district last Tuesday, said there should be no problem raising money for the first two years.
He said the Pop Warner program, which has served over 500 players since 2005, has gotten over $40,000 in donations since its inception.
Practices would take place at both school but games would be played at Duanesburg elementary school where a field has already been built, Mr. Meyer said.
There had been some discussions about fielding eight-player teams but the proposal is for 11-player squads, he said.
Enthusiasm is high among players and parents for a team, Mr. Meyer said, and parent Jess Nay said he has been looking for a place for his son to play.
"This is a golden opportunity," he said. "It's a different option from what we've had before. I hope we get this done so we can play some football."
There were some concerns from parents and SCS board members.
Mr. Meyer said the costs would be covered by fundraising and game revenue, but some people were worried about the constant fundraising especially in light of the recent flood and the ongoing fundraising to restore a JV sports program at SCS.
Anne Bevins, president of the All Sports Booster Club, said members worked very hard to raise $30,000 for seven JV sports teams for this year.
The football team would require the communities to donate $10,000 for one sport per year, she said.
SCS graduate Josh Miller noted that many players would choose football over soccer and cross-country in the fall, hurting those programs.
Mr. Meyer said the football program does not take away opportunities but adds them since there would be two schools of students to field the football team.
Board member Terry Burton said he did not want to have a sort of "pay to play" sport, since the money has to be raised.
SCS Superintendent Brian Sherman said this would not be considered a "pay to play" sport.
There were also concerns about adding a JV sport at a time when cuts are being made in sports programs and other areas of the district.