HOWLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Canfield’s and Poland’s athletic directors met briefly, leaving open the possibility of continuing their longtime rivalry in all sports — but especially football.
All of the athletic directors in the All-American Conference met in Howland Thursday evening. Seven of the conference’s 21 teams — Poland, Hubbard, Girard, Lakeview, Jefferson, Niles, and Struthers — plan to join South Range in 2018 and form the new NorthEast 8 Conference.
“I am not ready to say 100 percent we’re going to play, because there will be some scheduling challenges,” said Canfield Athletic Director Greg Cooper. “We would love to play Poland under circumstances that are mutually agreeable. We’re going to do our best to work out those challenges.”
Poland Athletic Director Brian Banfield confirmed the meeting with Cooper and said he’s trying to figure out how the two schools can play in the future.
“One way or another, it seems promising for the Bulldogs and the Cardinals to continue their rivalry.”
Canfield and Poland will play football this season on the last Friday night of the regular season but with the NorthEast 8 planning to start in 2018, there’s nothing definite after this year.
Cooper said the Canfield-Poland game has traditionally been played on Week 10 and he would like to keep it that way.
Banfield has mentioned the possibility of playing Poland in the season opener in 2018, but Cooper said he doesn’t know if they want to play their rival in Week 1.
All-American Conference Commissioner Rick King chaired the meeting of all the ADs and did his best to keep what could have been a contentious situation calm.
“We’re getting a divorce but there’s no reason to make it an ugly divorce,” he said.
The contracts of every school in the All-American Conference requires any school leaving to give notification by May 1. The seven schools, however, didn’t give their notice until May 23.
Cooper hopes the schools leaving for the new conference will agree to honor their commitment to the AAC through 2018 to allow time for the other schools to regroup for the future.
“We need to maintain the relationships and rivalries that have existed for decades,” King said.
He said there will be other meetings over the next month to work on what he called “exit scheduling,” trying to find a way to keep workable 2018 football schedules for both the schools staying in the AAC and those leaving.