St. Mary Central Catholic High School will be one of the cornerstone schools in the newly formed Sandusky River League (SRL).
The new league will begin play in 2014-15.
The new conference includes three schools formerly in the Panther's current conference; the SBC. Those three schools -- St. Joe's Central Catholic, Lakota, and Calvert Catholic -- will be joined by Old Fort and New Riegel to form the nucleus of a league that will eventually expand to a ten team league with eight football schools.
SMCC Principal Mike Savona said, "We are very excited to participate in an opportunity that will help shape the future of our athletic programs." At the same time, Savona readily acknowledged that their departure from the SBC athletic conference comes with very mixed emotions.
SMCC AD Dennis Faber noted "In the 35 years as an AD in the SBC, the professionalism, talent level, and camaraderie among the administrators, coaches, and student-athletes has been outstanding.
"The SBC is a league that includes strong traditions and great relationships among its members. The league has been competitive, and exciting and longstanding rivalries have been established during the Panthers' more than sixty year reign as members. For the last 18 months, however, SMCC has explored various options that would put their student-athletes in a more balanced competitive situation. "We have thought long and hard about the move and have come to the conclusion that the time for change has arrived" Faber added.
In recent years, the differences in student population of league schools have grown dramatically.
"With our average graduating class in the mid-forties, even if we doubled in size, we would still be the smallest school in the league" commented SCCS Board of Directors' President, Charles Murray. In the current conference, SMCC routinely competes successfully against schools that are anywhere from three to five times their size. "In addition to competitive balance, the safety of our student-athletes has come into question, and this must be a primary concern" said Mr. Murray.
He further commented that, "The SCCS Board of Directors supports the decision to form and play in the new league; Mike Savona has integrated the Board in the decision-making process, and we join him, his faculty and staff, and our entire school community in being excited about the formation of the Sandusky River League."
"As we begin a new tradition with membership in the Sandusky River League (SRL), we look forward to establishing new rivalries while continuing some of our existing rivalries within our non-league schedules" Savona reflected. No sports will be eliminated from the Panthers extensive slate of offerings and coaches will retain flexibility in scheduling appropriate levels of competition for their teams. Students in grades seven through 12 were made aware of the move at an assembly Friday morning.