A big change may be coming to the Hoopeston Area High School football program next year.
The Hoopeston Area Board of Education discussed the future of the school’s high school football program during last week’s meeting.
The matter was discussed by the board’s extra curricular committee earlier in the month and brought to the board Thursday night.
Board Member Lee Cox, who serves on the committee, pointed to the struggles the team has undergone this season.
The Hoopeston Area-Armstrong-Potomac Cornjerkers are 0-8 and will play their final game of the season against Harvard Saturday.
The football program has consistently struggled with enrollment for several years and the previous co-op between HAHS, AP and Schlarman came apart last year when Schlarman opted to move into the eight-man association.
Hoopeston Area had previously considered moving into the eight-man football association prior to the start of this season, but opted to stick with the status quo in order to fulfill their commitments to the Vermilion Valley Conference.
After a difficult season, those viewpoints seem to changed and the board is now faced with two choices: focus solely on junior varsity competition or move to eight-man.
Principal John Klaber said he would like to see the board have a clear path laid out as to what choice they are going to make for next school year by December or January since the official meeting to sign-up for eight-man is in January.
“Either way, we need to let our conference know, whether it be going to JV or eight-man, they need to know so they can start trying to fill games,” he said.
Cox asked if the board wanted to have someone come to the November board meeting and discuss the ins and outs of eight-man football to the board.
Klaber recommended the board have Milford High School Principal Steve Totheroh, who also serves as the eight-man association vice president, attend the next meeting and discuss the matter with them.
“Eight-man is kind of the unknown dance partner,” he said. “Everybody keeps talking about eight-man, but it’s still new enough that there’s questions to be asked.”
Board President Dave McFadden asked that Totheroh be invited to the November board meeting so the board can consider their options with an aim towards voting on the matter in December.
McFadden asked that Klaber or Athletic Director Nathan Burkowski have some information prepared regarding the associated travel costs with moving to eight-man.
Since the eight-man association is still new the teams playing it are few and far between, so there is a great deal of extra travel associated with it.
Burkowski said there are several teams within in an hour’s drive of Hoopeston that have switched to eight-man that the Cornjekrers could play.
However, he said, there are also many teams that are 150-200 miles away from Hoopeston.
Burkowski said he had spoken with Head Coach Matthew Leskis about the current state and Leskis agreed that the team, as it is, more of a junior varsity caliber team with it’s compliment of younger players.
Burkowski said Leskis views eight-man as the best option for the team going forward as he’s afraid they will lose players if they move to junior varsity for two years as they won’t be able to play seniors in JV.
Burkowski said that he had already spoken with Totheroh about the move to eight-man and that Totheroh was willing to attend a board of education meeting to discuss the matter further.
In an unrelated discussion, the board approved a $41,665 bid from Kinsale Contracting Group for the abatement of asbestos at Honeywell Grade School.
This is a part of the overall plan to have Honeywell Grade School demolished by next August.
Board Member Lisa Leigh said the asbestos abatement should be completed by Nov. 15.