NYSSA – With the start of the fall season, the Harper Hornets faced a problem common to teams in small, eastern Oregon schools. Superintendent Ron Talbot had players wanting to take to the football field, but too few, even for a six-man team.
“We could not even field a six-man team,” said Talbot. “I wanted to give the kids that wanted to play a chance.”
Talbot hopped on the phone, finally finding an answer in the form of the Nyssa Bulldogs. Approval from the OSAA was received last week, solidifying a cooperative football team made up of Nyssa and Harper.
The idea of cooperatives is not new in the small 1A schools of eastern Oregon. Some Oregonians believe Monument and Dayville are the same town as the two schools have played as one team for years. Ukiah and Long Creek also have a long history of donning one uniform. Jordan Valley joined Adrian to recently take home a state football title.
What is different about the Nyssa and Harper squad is a 1A team joining with a 3A team. The reality of eastern Oregon is, even with a six-man conference available, there still exists schools not able to provide student athletes a chance to play due to low numbers.
“Harper will field a Hornet team in the next few years,” Talbot said. “We have large classes coming up, classes excited about sports in Harper. We just ran into a year or two with small classes in the high school and the deal with Nyssa was the option to allow kids to play.”
While Harper may have found their solution for this year, the same cannot be said for Jordan Valley. Sitting on the Idaho/Oregon/Nevada border, the Mustangs failed to gather enough players for a six-man team. A cooperative with Adrian again placed the team in 2A status due to growth in Adrian, a situation the Antelopes vetoed.
“We have some large classes coming up and we should be able to be back on the football field within the next few years,” said Rusty Bengoa, superintendent of Jordan Valley.
The OSAA has rules in place to make sports equitable and fair to all. In addition, the OSAA is not there to solve all the problems. That being said, there should never be a situation when a student athlete foregoes a season he/she wants to play.