FOXBURG, PA (EYT/D9) – Three Union/AC Valley football games that were scheduled to be played at AC Valley High School this season have been moved to Union due to security concerns.
(Above, Union/AC Valley players warm up on the AC Valley High School pitch ahead of a game against Sheffield last September)
Several Union/AC Valley coaches, many of whom are AC Valley graduates, have approached the school board with their desire to shake up the games.
Falcon Knights assistant coach Chris McNany was at a school board meeting held remotely on Aug. 8 and again at an in-person meeting Monday night to make the case for the coaches. He also raised issues with the pitch in a meeting last December.
“There are seven guys on our team who are AC Valley alumni, and we’re certainly not trying to take football out of AC Valley,” McNany said. “If anything, we’ve been fighting for 10, 12 years to keep it there. We’ve had other coaches approach us before games on the pitch and bring it to our attention. Officials have said things in the past. It’s an ongoing thing.
“I played football for 10 years in my life, and I coached it for a good part of 20 years,” McNany added. “I don’t want to put an athlete with a chance of getting injured playing on the pitch that we walk on before the game and that we don’t deem fit. Ultimately, it’s a matter of security.
McNany said at least one team came close to refusing to play at AC Valley due to field conditions.
“They used the term ‘ridiculous’, terms like that,” McNany said. “They said it was not a suitable ground to hold a Friday night lights game.”
After much debate, the board passed the motion by a vote of 5 to 4.
Proponents of moving the games cited security concerns. Those who opposed said the AC Valley community would lose home football games and the school and booster clubs would lose significant revenue.
Games against Cameron County on August 26, Kane on September 23 and Smethport on October 14 will now be played at Union.
AC Valley hopes to stage games again as soon as the pitch issues are resolved, possibly as early as next season.
The question now is: what needs to be done to make this happen? And, where to start?
“There is interest, but funding is a major issue,” said AC Valley athletic director Dave Sherman, who also sits on the grounds committee. “We are looking at different grants and so on. It’s a big, big business, and we’re not talking about a little money either.
There are already several options on the table.
One, McNany said, is to renovate the existing pitch, lower the crown and cover it, along with other stadium fixes, such as lighting.
McNany said another possible solution would be to build a new facility at the location of the track, which is also currently unusable due to wear and tear.
“One thing is clear,” McNany said. “Whatever the decision, it must be made quickly.”
AC Valley Superintendent Dr. David McDeavitt agreed.
“That might be motivation enough to move the committee in the right direction and fix what should be fixed in the long run,” said McDeavitt, who is also a member of the grounds committee.
Funding is a major issue, McDeavitt said during the Aug. 8 remote meeting.
“We’re working as hard as we can to try to find grants to update this football pitch because the last thing we want to do is lose football on a Friday night,” McDeavitt said. “We’re just in a very difficult situation.”
At least the problem is solved now, McNany said.
“We are at least looking at different plans and what we can do,” McNany said. “Unfortunately, we just haven’t had the time this year to get the pitch back in good shape.”
The football cooperation between Union and AC Valley began in 2016. Last year was the most successful season for the Falcon Knights, who went 9-3 and won two playoff games at home before falling into the District 9 Class A final at Redbank Valley. .
Both of these playoff games were played at Union.
McNany hopes to one day host a playoff game at AC Valley.
Since 2016, Union and AC Valley have entered into more cooperatives. Currently, the baseball, golf, and track and field teams are combined.
Co-ops in all sports have been very successful.
“I think you have to give credit to the coaches and the kids,” said Union sporting director Scott Kindel. “Coaches and athletes have to make it work, and they’ve gone above and beyond. These kids are best friends on and off the pitch.
The AC Valley ground will still be used for youth football matches. The team will also split training time between the two schools.
“We can’t complain about the success we’ve had with co-ops, and I think the football team is going to do some good things (this year),” Sherman said. “The track was a big hit, and so was baseball.”
McNany said that in the short term the coaches are happy, but he hopes the effort will be made and the money raised and spent on improving the AC Valley facilities.
“Union has a nice pitch and that option is available to us,” McNany said. “No matter what we do, you talk about a major renovation that needs to be done to make it suitable. Whatever action we take, we need to make that decision fairly quickly. »
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