October 24, 2014

AE planning to field eight-man JV football team this fall

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TWINING — After being given the go-ahead by the school board to begin researching eight-man football at Arenac Eastern, Athletic Director Bill Lake said the current plan is to establish the downsized junior varsity team this fall.

Lake said the varsity-eligible students will continue to play on the Au Gres-Sims team.

“Our plan is to try to run a JV eight-man football program next year, and still have our seniors for sure, and juniors possibly — depending on if they have any playing experience — but our varsity-eligible kids, send them over to play varsity with Au Gres and try to get a JV eight-man established here at AE,” he said.

According to Lake, he contacted the Michigan High School Athletic Association and was informed the district’s cooperative agreement with AGS for football could continue at the varsity level as long as one school did not want to end it. Lake said that is positive news, because if AE is not able to field a full roster for eight-man football, interested students could still join AGS.

Lake said AGS coach Chad Zeien has informed him that he would accept students who signed up for the eight-man team.

“If something happens where it falls through and we don’t have enough people show up next fall, he’s already kind of told me he’d accept our kids late,” he said. “They’re probably going to need our kids to run a JV themselves.”

For the initial season, Lake said heavy parent involvement would be needed to make the program run smoothly.

“It’s going to have to kind of start out as a club next year, so we want to make sure our parents understand we’ll need some parent involvement with fundraising and stuff like that,” he said.

Lake said after the district’s spring break, he would likely reach out to parents at a meeting to gauge the public’s feeling on the subject of eight-man football. After that, he said he will begin working on a schedule.

“I haven’t out-and-out called schools to set up games yet,” he said. “I kind of want to wait until we have a parent involvement meeting to see how many parents are going to tell us they’re going to try to get their kids to play.”

So far, 14 students have expressed interest in playing on a JV team next year, Lake said. He said the Owen-Gage eight-man coach was in attendance at an AE school board meeting this year, and told the board it should not have much trouble scheduling games. Lake said the Owen-Gage coach also recommended giving eight-man football a go.

For the first year, Lake said he hopes to find four schools willing to play AE twice a year.

“What we’re looking at is possibly trying to find four schools, and have us travel there and them travel here, and get our eight games and get our feet wet that way,” he said.

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