By Bettina Huseby
Pickens High School head football coach Chris Parker addressed the March 14 board of education meeting about plans to combine both middle school football teams into one.
“What we’re trying to do at the middle school level is much like what Dawson County recently did,” Parker said. “It’s an opportunity to streamline players into one group which will move together from the JYSA to middle school and then to high school. It will really build the program.”
Parker said so far the idea to merge has been well-received. The biggest negative he’s heard is fear that some players might not get as much play time. To address this concern, they plan to have some 7th grade games.
“We like to win,” Parker said. “But we also like to give everyone an opportunity to play.”
School Superintendent Ben Desper is “very pleased and excited about the football project.” He believes the players will be much more likely to stay involved with football when they make the transition from middle to high school and the team will be better because of it.
According to School Board Chair Wendy Lowe, other sports may ultimately have to be combined but this move only affects the middle school football program.
“This is just for football, not other sports,” said School Board Chairman Wendy Lowe in a phone interview Monday morning. “It came out of necessity because the football coach at JMS is retiring and we just weren’t looking to replace that position. This is one of the ways for the high school football coach to get more involved.”
School board member Mike Cowart pointed out that local businesses might appreciate the convenience of not having three different schools calling on them to support their football teams because from now on there will be just one Touchdown Club.
A lot of logistics still need to be worked out. Dr. Chris LeMieux, principal of PCMS, and Coach Parker plan to begin scheduling parent meetings to discuss things like uniforms and answer any questions parents may have.
When asked about the cheerleading programs, Lowe said administrators will have to talk with the people coordinating the cheer groups and decide how to handle the situation moving forward.
“I don’t know that they have gotten that far yet but obviously there will only be one team,” she said.