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Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 -- 8:38 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

Loyal and Granton will combine all their Jr. High and High School sports beginning next year.

Citing decreasing participation and a lot of goodwill between the two districts, the two school boards voted to merge all their sports programs at a meeting last night.

They already share high school football and junior high football, softball, baseball and boys basketball.

Board members said they looked at those efforts as a “test”, and by almost all accounts, the programs have worked well.

Chris Lindner coaches the football team. 10 Granton students participate.

"I think it's been going great," he told the boards, "My only concern is if we ever get bumped up (to the Cloverbelt)."

If Loyal-Granton would be forced to change conferences, Lindner said he'd likely seek a third team, possibly Greenwood.

Loyal girls basketball coach Mike Schiszik said he supports the move.

Loyal currently struggles to field two high school teams.

Granton board member Roxy Eibergen agreed, saying sparse numbers often means kids have to play varsity or JV before they’re ready.

"That's the biggest problem: our kids always have to play up and they never get the chance to build their skills at the same level as other students," she said, "That's one of the big benefits to doing this. The students can actually play at the level they should be playing and not be forced to play at the varsity level when they're freshman."

Loyal superintendent Graeme Williams predicted not everyone would be happy with the move. Both schools seem to have adequate numbers for high school volleyball and boys basketball.

But Loyal board member Joel Luttrop said they should act quickly to keep the momentum of the successful football and junior high programs.

"Let's keep it rolling," he said.

The two boards still must hammer out the details, like which teams will practice and play at which facilities, uniforms and coaching positions.

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