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Canton School Board agrees to reinstate JV football

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CANTON - Supporters of reinstating junior varsity football scored a touchdown at this week’s Canton Central School board meeting.

Board members unanimously agreed to create a boys’ JV team this season after being told the extra cost of fielding a team will be covered by donations from businesses and other supporters.

That decision could be overturned if enough players don’t turn out when practice starts next week or if the money doesn’t come through.

For the past few years, the district has been fielding a modified team for grades 7 to 9 and a varsity team for grades 10-12. A JV team would serve grades 9 and 10.

Modified Coach Austin A. Weakfall said enough donations are available to cover the estimated $2,252 cost of transportation and officials for a JV team. No additional coaches would be hired.

“We are prepared to fund the program ourselves, if necessary. We can hand you a check on Monday,” Mr. Weakfall told board members. “We believe we have the numbers to support a third team. We’ve been running a camp this week with 70 kids.”

The district has merger agreements that allow students from Edwards-Knox, Hermon-DeKalb and Lisbon to play on the Canton football team.

Athletic Director William A. Porter, who also coaches the varsity football team, said not having a JV team is a safety issue because it forces some of the younger players to compete on a varsity team in a heavy contact sport.

School board member Keith R. Rosser said he’s spoken with several community members who said their child may leave the football program for another sport if a JV team isn’t available.

“I think we’re putting kids in harm’s way if we not putting them in an age-appropriate situation,” Mr. Porter said.

Approximately 20 parents attended the meeting. A petition signed by 89 parents and community members encouraged the board to reinstate the JV team.

James Bartlett, father of a seventh-grade football player, said his son does not want to compete against ninth graders.

“Size and power does make a difference at the modified level,” Mr. Bartlett said.

The board reached the decision despite concerns raised by School Superintendent William A. Gregory, who recommended against adding a JV program because the number of players might prove to be insufficient.

Two years ago the district was forced to cancel an away varsity game after several players were uanble to play.

Injuries coupled with academic ineligibility can reduce the number of players available.

“When that happens it’s not fair to anyone else in the conference,” Mr. Gregory said. “It’s my belief that we should retain two teams.”

Mr. Porter said he expects to have 20 or more varsity players and about 30 players for JV and 30 for modified. “I feel we can sustain three levels,’ he said.

Mr. Porter said Canton would play other districts that still have JV teams including Massena, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Malone and Gouverneur.

School board member Shannon D. Mattice said the district should develop a procedure to deal with requests that come in from community groups that want to fund a specific program.

“We need to come up with a plan for when outside funding is available,” she said.

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