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Home » Football News

Fort Benton football co-op denied by MHSA

August 29, 2014
Northwest Montana A Conference



 

Fort Benton football co-op denied by MHSA

Mark D. Robertson  August 28, 2014
1 4 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

The Montana High School Association denied an emergency co-op request for Fort Benton's and Great Falls Central's football teams Thursday afternoon.

The two Class C schools made the appeal earlier this week after Fort Benton announced that it could not field a varsity football team on its own this fall.

"It is what it is. We'll do the best for our kids and make things work," Fort Benton athletic director Bob Schoonover said Thursday. "It was something that we tried, and it didn't go, so that's where we are."

The MHSA ruled that the co-op could not occur for two reasons. First, the combined enrollment of the two schools, 193 students, far exceeded the Class C co-op cap of 131 students, or 10 percent greater than the enrollment of the largest Class C school. Second, the appeal was not made prior to the February 1 deadline.

"After discussion and asking questions and all that, the board did deny an emergency co-op with Great Falls Central and offered for them to play a JV schedule," MHSA executive director Mark Beckman said.

The Longhorns will do that, Schoonover said, starting with Tuesday's scheduled JV game against Cascade.

Fort Benton expected to field a varsity team prior to the August 15 start of practice, but an injury and academic issues rendered the Longhorns with just eight roster players, just four who weren't freshmen.

Great Falls Central extended the invitation to co-op, which Fort Benton accepted, and the appeal went to the MHSA.

"I'm not real surprised," Central head coach Mike Nelson said. "Basically the (MHSA) has numbers to go by and in the end it probably wasn't that tough of a decision for them. I totally understand."

The coach said he wished the Longhorns players would have the chance to play varsity football this year.

"I feel bad for the Fort Benton kids," Nelson said. "We gave it a shot for them. … It's just some real bad luck for them."

Beckman did say the MHSA would permit Longhorns to schedule JV games with Class B and Six-Man competition if they wanted to play more games.

"We'll do anything to help those kids continue to play football until they can get younger kids up through the system," Beckman said.

Beckman said the February deadline is hard and fast – he could only recall one exception in his tenure with the MHSA.

"Usually the writing is on the wall where they can see that kids aren't coming out or kids aren't attending class," he said. "… I think it surprised Fort Benton. I think they were counting on 16 or 17 kids to come out."

Schoonover and the Longhorns will make do.

"It wasn't approved, and we'll just go back and do the best we can and play our JV schedule," he said.


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