What would happen if Maple Grove/Chautauqua Lake football’s appeal to the state is denied and the program is faced with the prospect of playing in Class B instead of Class C during the fall?
While the chatter in Section VI circles has been that the merged programs could go their separate ways, such a move ultimately would defeat the purpose of their union in the first place.
“When we originally combined, we combined for the right reasons – student safety and a continued opportunity to play football for kids at both school districts,” Chautauqua Lake Athletic Director Josh Liddell told The News Wednesday.
Bemus Point School District Superintendent Michael Mansfield indicated Thursday afternoon that he too would be in favor of Maple Grove sticking with Chautauqua Lake should the program lose its appeal with the state.
“We really want to keep the merger,” Mansfield said. “I think what Mr. Liddell said is very accurate, but we will meet with our parents as soon as we know the decision, get some feedback from them and our coaches and make a decision.”
The Section VI combined schools committee recommended Maple Grove/CL along with Bennett and its merged partners within the Buffalo Public Schools get bumped up a classification because each made it to a sectional final last season.
The Bennett combined team is fighting a move to Class A while its BED efficiency numbers add up to being a Class B-sized school. Maple Grove/CL adds up to Class C. A ruling by the state on those appeals is expected soon.
The Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake teams came together prior to the 2013 season because of concerns over the low number of players coming out for what still ranks as the most popular sport in the United States. In order to make sure their programs remained strong and vibrant, in wake of player participation being affected by concerns over head injuries, Maple Grove – a perennial Section VI championship contender – and Chautauqua Lake opted to merge.
The results: Two straight Section VI Class C titles, along with playing opportunities for students at both schools.
Once the state rules on the appeals and the school districts decide their respective course of action, then the section can resume the process of completing the Section VI football schedule for the upcoming season.
Section VI is the only section in the state that has not released its football schedule. Historically, the schedule has been released by March.