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Cornell School District to run 2021 football program


After learning that the Lake Holcombe School Board had voted to end the 11-man football co-op with Cornell after the 2021 school year season, the Cornell School district knew they had to look at what was best for their athletes. Since Lake Holcombe’s decision was made after the WIAA’s Oct. 15 deadline for starting the realignment process, Cornell is not guaranteed to get into an eight-man conference in 2022.

“…Which is an obvious concern to us, as we would have to find non-conference games from other schools to fill our schedule,” said representatives from the Cornell football program.

An opportunity to cure that was presented to the district by Owen-Withee, when they decided to drop 11-man football for 2021, and play an independent schedule. Thorp and Athens have already agreed to be part of the venture, and once other schools sign on to play next year, the group will be submitted a new conference for 2022.

“This conference alignment opportunity will allow us to field separate eight-man middle and high school programs,” said representatives.

A new conference to play in will provide an opportunity that would have otherwise been lost, and will provide athletes a chance to learn eight-man football with teams that are new to that concept.

“We are saddened that such a great co-op had to come to an end,” said representatives.

However, the Cornell School District is not new to reduced football or lower numbers, compared to present figures. The first few years of football at Cornell, produced a record of 41-7 (1937-43), at that time fielding a six-man team. A year later, in 1944, the Cornell eight-man squad recorded a 7-0 record. Since the 1937 season, the Cornell School District has offered football as a competitive sport and has done so uninterrupted for more than 80 years.

It was in 2007, after a season that saw a significant reduction in student body and subsequent athletes, the district opted to create a co-op with their neighbors five miles to the north. With that co-op at an end after the 2021 season, it was time to move on.

“After seven years of co-op football,” said representatives, “it is our pleasure to announce the reallocation of energy toward a Cornell only, eight-man program, for not only the 2021 football season, but also the foreseeable future.”

Number studies on participation rates, along with several parent and student-athlete meetings, provided more than encouraging responses and renewed excitement of once again fielding a Cornell football team. With several storied programs of neighboring schools and reduction in enrollment, as well as several State title winners in the newly formed group, excitement continues to build for the open door of opportunity.

“In short, eight-man football is here to stay,” said representatives. “Please continue to support our local athletes, as we look forward to seeing on the sidelines this fall.”