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Bishop Carroll to decide its football fate

By Calem Illig

cillig@altoonamirror.com

EBENSBURG — The future of the Bishop Carroll Catholic football team remains in question, and school officials are unsure if the Huskies will hit the gridiron this fall.

Athletic personnel said they plan to meet imminently to discuss the state of the football team, and a decision regarding the future of the program is expected Monday.

“As of today, we have a varsity football team,” Bishop Carroll assistant athletic director Jim Yeager said Thursday. “There will be more information coming soon, and we hope the picture will be clearer by Monday.”

The Huskies are supposed to enter their first season as an associate member of the WestPAC and their second season under head coach Bubba Fatula.

WestPAC Secretary Craig Gindlesperger said although he’s heard rumors in recent days surrounding Bishop Carroll, the league had not received any word from the school itself about not playing this year.

“There’s a lot of change going on right now, and a lot of dominoes are starting to fall in different leagues across the area,” Gindlesperger said. “There’s no plan in place right now if Bishop Carroll were to leave, and we haven’t heard anything from them yet.”

The Huskies have suffered low turnout over the past few seasons. BC was forced to forfeit two games in the latter half of the 2019 season after injuries piled up.

The team was slated to have 25 players on the roster this upcoming season, according to MaxPreps.

Carroll’s uncertain future has sparked concern for WestPAC officials and coaches, and several coaches from the league indicated they are already searching for replacement opponents for weeks they are slated to face Bishop Carroll.

“Any time you lose a game on our schedule, it’s difficult. When it’s this late, there are additional challenges,” Blacklick Valley coach Rich Price said. “When you’re scheduling non-conference games, you want to take into consideration many factors such as travel (or) possibly losing a home game for that particular year. Are you scheduling just for this year or will it be a multiple-year contract? Do you need it to be a multiple year contract? And even taking into consideration the potential classification of an opponent when you’re fighting for a playoff spot.”

With Williamsburg’s reported co-op agreement with Juniata Valley, Gindlesperger said WestPAC teams may be able to fill an opening in their schedule through an Inter-County Conference opponent.

Gindlesperger added the possibility of two WestPAC teams scheduling each other twice in one season is “not realistic.”

Portage football coach Marty Slanoc did not speculate on any potential moves in the conference. But he acknowledged that filling a hole in the schedule at this stage of the season would be yet another challenge for teams to overcome.

“After last season, if there is anything we have learned, it is the ability to adapt and adjust to the unforeseen,” said Slanoc, whose Mustangs are currently slated to host Bishop Carroll on Oct. 8. “Coaches, including myself, have been preaching for years to control what you can control. That’s how I want my team to respond to any adversity, and I would not be a very good leader if I let uncontrollables affect me.”

Bishop Carroll finished 1-7 last season as a member of the Heritage Conference, with its only victory coming against non-league opponent Blacklick Valley in the season finale.

One coach from the Heritage Conference said Carroll was “a tough team to compete against” last season despite its record and felt the team could have garnered more success in the WestPAC.

Many area coaches speculated on a potential co-op between Bishop Carroll and Blacklick Valley given the schools’ close proximity and familiarity between players.

Price said he wasn’t aware of any potential move, but did note the deep connection between the two programs.

“The players know the past successes and the connection between BC and Blacklick Valley,” Price said. “The schools are about 15 minutes apart, and many of the students from each school are friends, neighbors and even related. There have been coaches at each school that their children have attended the other school. They play on summer and travel sports teams together, so the connection between the two schools and communities runs deep. Both schools have very hardworking, proud students and student-athletes.”

Mirror Staff Writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.

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