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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

Most foes waiting to see if Lake might play

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Lake High School is not the only school hoping that its school board agrees to reinstate fall athletics during a scheduled meeting on Monday.

Its fellow Suburban Lakes League members are also feeling the effects of the school board's recent decision to approve student-activity cuts that ultimately eliminated the Flyers' entire fall athletic schedule. The possibility of the Flyers not competing has left SLL athletic directors and coaches scrambling to find potential replacements.

"Right now we're not planning on playing them [in football], but we're waiting on them," Eastwood athletic director Hub Reed said.

Lake's up-in-the-air status came about following a recent defeat at the polls of a property-tax levy that was expected to raise $2.5 million a year. As a result, school-board officials felt compelled to eliminate fall athletics and other extracurricular activities to produce a balanced budget.

News of the decision prompted all of the Flyers' scheduled opponents to seek potential replacements.

However, Genoa is the only school that has officially dropped Lake from its football schedule. The Comets were scheduled to play host to the Flyers on Sept. 17, but will instead play host to Warren Kennedy.

Lake athletic director Dave Shaffer said he understood Genoa's action because if the Comets didn't sign a contract, they might lose the opportunity to replace the Flyers on the schedule.

The other nine schools on Lake's football schedule have agreed to wait and see what happens with the school's last-ditch effort to save the fall athletic season.

Local residents and Lake boosters held a rally yesterday

intended to help gain approximately 2,000 signatures to present to the school board today in favor of an income tax levy. Lake officials have informed other school officials that the fate of fall athletics will be decided at the board's meeting on Monday.

While there's concern among SLL officials and coaches about potentially losing games, the general consensus appears to be one of support for the Flyers.

"We have a substitute game available, but we'll wait until Monday afternoon to decide what we're going to do," said Woodmore principal Hobart Johnson, whose team is scheduled to play at Lake on Oct. 22. "Right now, we're honoring our commitment to each other in the league. We're all being patient and will not do anything until then.

"We've received some inquiries and have not taken any action, to allow Lake to work out their circumstances."

Lakota has looked into finding a possible replacement for its scheduled home game with Lake on Oct. 1. Yet, Lakota athletic director Ginni Beaston said no final decision has been made.

"Nothing is being done until after Monday," Beaston said. "We'll wait and see what happens. We've done some discussing with other schools."

Reed believes it's significant that most of the other schools in the SLL have shown a level of patience and support for Lake. Should Lake not field a team, the Eagles are content with playing only nine regular-season games. The two are scheduled to play at Lake on Oct. 29 in what would be the final game of the regular season.

"We're waiting for them," Reed said. 'We could be in the same spot. The way funding is today, any one of us could be in that spot."

Gibsonburg athletic director Kirk Katafias said the Golden Bears hope to play Lake as planned at Lake on Oct. 8. Otherwise, the Bears must deal with the alternative.

"If Lake is not playing, we'll probably not play that week and just go with nine games," Katafias said. "It's tough to find anyone to schedule to play in October this late."

The waiting game is not limited to Lake's league opponents. Swanton (Aug. 27), Northwood (Sept. 3) and Rossford (Sept. 10) are also stuck in a state of "limbo" in regard to football dates with Lake.

Rossford's scheduled meeting with Lake is the Bulldogs' home opener and a special ceremony to name the stadium after former coaches Don Jackson and Tom Ferguson has been in the works for more than a year. Rossford athletic director Chuck Cox said two schools from the Dayton area are possible replacements for Lake.

"We're doing everything in our power to avoid an open date because it is our home opener and is a special day," Cox said.



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