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Tom Mix, Published May 07 2012

Central Valley won't field a varsity football team this season

FARGO – Randy Vigen saw it coming two years ago, and now it appears a lack of numbers has brought about the end of football at Central Valley High School.

Vigen, the activities director and head football coach at Central Valley, said the Valiants will not be fielding a varsity 9-man team this fall due low participation numbers.

“There are some problems here right now,” Vigen said. “Most likely if we remain on our own we won’t be able to field even a junior varsity team because our numbers are so low.”

Central Valley, located near Buxton, N.D., only returns nine players from last year’s roster that included seven seniors.

Vigen estimated next fall’s team would have had only 13 players in grades 9-12, prompting him to alert North Dakota 9-man, Region II football officials that the school wouldn’t be fielding a varsity team in 2012-13.

The news of Valiants football vanishing has been made more grim by the fact that the football players remaining at the school will not be able to co-op with Hillsboro – Central Valley’s co-op partner in every other sport. Co-ops of Central Valley and Hillsboro for volleyball and boys and girls basketball begin next school year.

North Dakota high school football operates on a two-year plan for scheduling, reclassification and co-op filing purposes and will be entering the second year of the current plan next fall. Co-ops in all other sports can be filed on a yearly basis.

That leaves Central Valley and its football players in a tough spot.

On April 16, during a North Dakota High School Activities Association board meeting, Vigen and Hillsboro activities director Terry Baesler brought forth several proposals for consideration.

First, Central Valley inquired about the possibility of its seniors – of which there are four returning – to be eligible to play at Hillsboro.

Second, the school asked for the players entering grades 9-11 become eligible to play only on Hillsboro’s junior varsity team. Third, they asked that Central Valley junior high players be eligible to co-op with Hillsboro. Of those three proposals, the NDHSAA board approved only the junior high co-op.

“It is very unfortunate,” NDHSAA Executive Secretary Sherman Sylling said. “… If Hillsboro and Central Valley were together right now they would qualify for 2A football. To allow the varsity players from Central Valley to go and play at Hillsboro and stay in 9-man affects the entire state.”

Vigen said the school is looking at its options right now likely will appeal the board’s decision at the next NDHSAA board meeting in June.

Baesler said he projects Hillsboro’s varsity program to be at 30-35 players next fall.

Central Valley and Hillsboro have filed for a co-op in football to begin in 2013-14. The Hillsboro-Central Valley football team would move up to 11-man and be one of the larger Class 1A teams in the state.

Student-athletes could open enroll at Hillsboro, but would only be able to compete in sub-varsity sports. Only a parental move would allow an athlete to compete on the varsity team.

“We need a place for our kids to play,” Vigen said. “That is the biggest thing. We have to do what is right for our student athletes. Denying them the opportunity because they a caught in a Catch 22 where in football you can only file for a co-op every two years. That is a tough one right now.”

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Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562