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Agreement OK’d to allow Sheffield football players to join Warren team

The cooperative agreement that will welcome Sheffield Wolverines football players into the Warren Dragons program for the remainder of this year does not mean the end of Sheffield’s chances to host a football program.

At a Wednesday special meeting, all nine members of the school board approved a motion to create a cooperative agreement between Warren Area High School and Sheffield Area High School for football.

The agreement would permit any Sheffield students who are interested in playing football to join the Warren team for the remainder of the 2020 season.

“Cooperative sponsorship would permit interested and eligible Sheffield Area High School athletes to compete in football at Warren Area High School, yet continue their student status at Sheffield, thus enlarging the scope of their high school experience,” according to the resolution approved on Wednesday.

PIAA approved the agreement on Wednesday. Warren County School District officials met with those from District 9 and District 10 on Thursday and both of those entities approved the changes as well, according to Coordinator of District-wide Athletics Rick Gignac.

That clears the way for players from Sheffield to begin participating with the Warren team immediately.

“They could join as early as today,” Gignac said Thursday. “We’re working out the logistics right now. We don’t want to get into the full equipment until next week. Beginning next week, we look at having them in pads.”

The resolution specifically states that the agreement is for only the 2020 season, going so far as to state that the “modification of the cooperative agreement shall be null, void, and of no effect,” if PIAA had not approved the merger for only one season.

The members of the board “wanted a one-year agreement,” Gignac said. “The board did not want a two- or a four-year agreement. That’s not typical for the PIAA. They cut us a break.”

It was not specifically stated that the break was due to COVID-19.

The board had to dissolve a long-standing football co-op between Sheffield and Abraxas to clear a path for the new agreement.

Due to COVID-19, Abraxas opted not to participate in the football program this year. That loss diminished the number of players available to the Sheffield team. Last week, when only 17 players were considered likely to be eligible for the team’s next contest, the district announced the cancellation of the remainder of the Wolverine season.

Gignac said PIAA could have taken COVID-19 and the impact it had on Sheffield’s agreement with Abraxas into consideration.

“Because of that, they felt they didn’t get a fair shake,” he said.

With the one-year change approved, the feeling at the board meeting was that Sheffield will have the opportunity to host its own program again next year, including putting the Abraxas co-op back into effect.

Other than adding Sheffield to the mix, the agreement does not change the standing co-op between Warren and Youngsville High School in place since 2017.

The new agreement does not change the classification of the Warren team, according to the resolution.

The district will provide transportation for the team “to away scrimmages and games and to district and state competitions,” according to the resolution. “Student transportation from Sheffield Area High School and Youngsville High School to the Warren Area High School and War Memorial Field, and the return trip, will be the responsibility of the participant’s parents/guardians.”

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