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Sheffield football players to join Warren team

Times Observer File Photo by Jay Young Warren’s James Swanson tries to break a tackle during Monday night’s Class 4A Region 8 football game against Conneaut.

Sheffield football players may not be without a home for long.

The Warren County School District on Wednesday approved a modification to an existing Cooperative Agreement for participating in football at Warren Area High School to include Sheffield Area Middle/High School for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association normally requires cooperative agreements to be for four years, but later Wednesday voted to set aside that rule to allow Sheffield to join Warren immediately.

The decision is now left up to the District 9 and District 10, both of which meet today.

Sheffield’s players needed a home after last Thursday’s decision to terminate the program, citing low numbers.

“The 2020-21 SAMHS Varsity and Junior Varsity football program cannot go forward in the season due to safety concerns related to numbers,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said in an email at the time.

Sheffield was supposed to play Curwensville last Friday night, but there were only going to be 17 players available for the game — below the minimum limit set previously by the school board.

“After assessing the situation at practice … the team was looking at 17 players of various skill, experience and preparation levels for the next game,” Stewart said at the time. “District football teams fall into the red zone within our procedure at 19 players.”

In previous years, Sheffield had a Cooperative Agreement with Abraxas Youth & Family Services in Marienville for football, wrestling and track, but that agreement was stopped earlier this fall due to COVID-19. Without players from Abraxas, Sheffield had 23 kids out for football at the start of the season.

According to school district policy approved in 2019, the minimum number of students to field a football team is 22. With 20 or 21, a program is under a one-year probation period. With few than 20, or in a second year under 22, the program is disbanded.

Wednesday’s decision by the school district and PIAA was allowed because adding Sheffield’s players to Warren’s team doesn’t change the Dragons’ classification from Class 4A.

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