By Don Groves
The Albany Ledger
Acting upon the findings of a football advisory committee, Albany will move from 11-man football to 8-man beginning in the 2014 season.
Albany superintendent John Rinehart shared the committee’s findings with the Albany R-III School Board at its April 15 meeting. The committee included Albany R-III staff members and district residents.
Those findings show that Albany has gone 9-55 in the Grand River Conference since 2004 and a 2-43 record against South Harrison, Hamilton, Gallatin, Maysville and Princeton/Mercer over the same period. Those two wins over the GRC heavyweights came in 2005 when the Warriors defeated Hamilton 7-6 and claimed a 21-20 homecoming win against Gallatin.
The findings also compared GRC schools’ enrollment with their football wins. The findings show that the greater the enrollment the more football games a school will have over time. Based on estimated enrollment using information from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Albany’s average enrollment is 154 from 2004 to 2013. South Harrison has an average enrollment of 249.
Comparing enrollment to the number of wins, South Harrison is ranked first in both categories while Albany is ranked sixth in enrollment and eighth in wins compared with other GRC districts.
“Over time we have fewer kids than the rest of them,” Rinehart said.
The enrollment to win ratio isn’t just unique to the Grand River Conference. A look at the Clarence Cannon Conference shows a similar finding with the higher enrollment schools showing a greater number of wins.
Unfortunately, Albany’s projected enrollment shows a decline from 2012 to 2020. Basing estimates on the size of the district’s classes, Albany High School is projected to drop from enrollment of 145 at the beginning of the 2012 school year to a low of 120 in 2017.
“Essentially we’re going to lose a class between now and fall of 2017,” Rinehart said.
Correlating projected enrollment with the number of football players, Albany could see its team numbers drop from 33 in 2013 to a low of 16 in 2018. While Albany’s enrollment is projected to decline fellow GRC districts such as South Harrison, Gallatin and Polo are expected to maintain if not grow enrollment.
With as few as 16 players could find it difficult to just even field a team let alone compete against bigger schools. Albany could look at 11-man teams in other conferences, as discussed by the committee, but playing teams in Lancaster or Paris would require to great a travel time.
The committee’s conclusion was that switching from 11-man to 8-man football was the logical decision. The change will allow Albany to compete against schools with similar enrollment. Which conference Albany will join, though, is still undecided. The Highway 275 Conference would allow Albany to play old GRC rivals such as Stanberry, Worth County and Tarkio but that isn’t likely at this time.
“That would an interesting schedule to play but they’re not open right now,” Rinehart said about joining the Highway 275 Conference.
The Platte Valley Conference, which includes Stewartsville/Osborn, North Andrew, South Nodaway/Jefferson, DeKalb, Southwest Ludlow/Breckenridge and Union Star is another possibility but it’s not known if Platte Valley is willing to expand.
Regardless of who Albany plays in 2014 changing the district’s most visible activity from 11-man football to 8-man football means following the board of education’s mandate in achieving success in all areas.
“We’re trying to do what’s best for our kids,” Rinehart said. “We want our kids to have every chance to be successful in whatever they do.”