AML, KSAC to form single football league

District 9 sent a press release following a league meeting Wednesday announcing the district will dissolve the Allegheny Mountain League and Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference in order to form a single district football league. The new league, the District IX Football League Association, will take effect at the end of the 2017 season.

“On Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, both the KSAC and the AML voted to dissolve their respective varsity football leagues in order to create one District IX Football League Association,” the release read. “The new league schedules and Constitution will take effect at the conclusion of the 2017 PIAA Football Championships.

“After several years of discussion and observation, the majority of administrators across District IX voted to establish one league as a step in helping to establish a more equitable playing field among the football-hosting schools and also to aid in the preservation of the sport for some schools’ programs.”

The AML’s dissolusion means Sheffield will likely have a few new faces on the schedule next season. Who they are and how the schedule shakes out remains to be seen, but Wolverines coach Dave Fitch is optimistic the new format will create a more competitive product all around.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “Overall I think we’re going to see a more competitive league and games from start to finish.

“I’m not sure how it’s all going to pan out or how much change there will be in the north,” he continued. “I would leave the northern versus the southern.”

Currently, the AML North comprises Sheffield, Smethport, Port Allegany, Otto-Eldred, Coudersport and Cameron County, while the South has Ridgway, Kane, Elk County Catholic, Curwensville, Brockway and Bradford.

The KSAC is divided into KSAC Large School and KSAC Small School. The Small Schools are Union/ACV, Redbank Valley, Keystone and Clarion-Limestone, while the Large Schools consist of St. Mary’s, Punxsutawney, Moniteau, Karns City, Clarion and Brookville.

No indication has been given as to how the league will be separated, whether geographically or by size. Either way, it appears the current trend of playing all crossover games to start the season will be ending.

“Before they voted tonight, they voted a month or two ago to elminate all the crossover games at one time,” Fitch said.

Fitch believes just that schedule change could help Sheffield’s participation numbers because young kids will get a chance to see more competitive games early in the season.

“We play all those tough games when it’s really nice weather, hunting season’s not in,” he said. “Kids come up and watch non-competitive games and our kids kind of getting it handed to us at times. Kids on the fence (about joining the team) are thinking ‘I don’t want any part of that.’ I think (the new league) will be more beneficial for our numbers.”

More information will be provided about the new league following the conclusion of the 2017 football season.