Albion not happy about long trips for football team this coming season

Photo by Cheryl Wertman: Albion’s Tommy Mattison breaks through the line for a big gain against Alden during a Sept. 9 game at Albion. The Purple Eagles will have longer trips to play some opponents this season.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 March 2017 at 8:25 pm

Some opponents more than 2 hours away

ALBION – A realignment among the Class B football teams in Section VI football will have the Purple Eagles taking some distant treks to play some of their opponents this fall.

At least three of the teams now in Albion’s division are two hours or more away by bus – Dunkirk, Olean and Fredonia/Westfield/Brocton.

Albion games at Dunkirk and Olean on Friday nights will have the Purple Eagles returning home about midnight on those game days, District Superintendent Michael Bonnewell told the Board of Education on Monday.

He has crunched the numbers for the travel time for the teams and he said the new configuration of the divisions puts Albion at a disadvantage with much longer drive times. It isn’t fair to the Albion players or their families that have to make the long hauls, Bonnewell said.

It also tough on bus drivers who start the day early on morning bus runs.

He would prefer Albion play opponents that aren’t so far away.

“They need to fix this,” Bonnewell told the Board of Education. “This is a problem. This isn’t the right way to deal with kids.”

Section VI grouped the 18 Class B teams in three divisions, with the six largest schools by enrollment in B1 – East Aurora/Holland, Pioneer, Cheektowaga, Burgard/MST, Lew-Port and Maryvale.

Albion is among the group of the second-largest schools that also includes Dunkirk, Olean, Springville, Depew and Fredonia/Westfield/Brocton.

The six schools in the smallest division include Medina/Lyndonville, Barker/Roy-Hart, Newfane, Alden, Tonawanda and Lackawanna.

The B2 schools are spread out from each other and have to drive 1,834 miles over two years travelling to each division opponent. Albion has to drive 420 of those miles, according to Bonnewell.

The B1 (large schools) have to drive 862 miles over two years and the B3 (smallest schools) have to go 872 miles. The B2 schools are driving more than twice as far as the B1 and B3 schools.

‘They need to fix this. This is a problem. This isn’t the right way to deal with kids.’ – Michael Bonnewell, Albion superintendent

Section VI went to a strictly enrollment size for determining the six divisions. The combined teams don’t reflect the actual total enrollment. For example, with Medina and Lyndonville, Section VI determines the enrollment by counting the numbers of students in grades 9 through 11 at Medina – 378 – and then adding 20 percent of Lyndonville’s enrollment because Lyndonville is classified by the state as a Class D school. Instead of counting all 153 Lyndonville students, only 30.6 or 31 are included for determining school size or 409 total for the Medina/Lyndonville team.

Larger schools in a merged team count a higher percentage: 30 percent of Class C schools, 40 percent of Class B and Class C, 40 percent of Class A, and 50 percent of Class AA, according to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

Albion’s enrollment is 446 for the three grade levels, and for the purpose of determining its division in Section VI. That makes Albion bigger than the combined Medina/Lyndonville team which has an actual enrollment of 531 but counts as 409 because Lyndonville is only factored at 20 percent of its enrollment.

It’s similar with the combined Barker and Roy-Hart team. The two districts together have 500 students in grades 9 to 11 but is considered 380 with the reduced percentage applied to Roy-Hart.

“I understand the size issue,” Bonnewell told the Board of Education. “But they’re not using real numbers. It’s based on a formula.”

Albion will play both Medina/Lyndonville and Barker/Roy-Hart in interdivisional contests in 2017. (The Medina/Lyndonville team beat Albion in 2016 by a score of 48-6, and Albion defeated Barker/Roy-Hart, 46-7.)

Randy Knaak, Albion’s athletic director, said he has reached out to the Section for an extra home game for the Albion varsity due to the longer travel. He also is asking that the starting time for jayvee games be pushed back from 10 a.m. to 11 or noon because Albion has to leave early in the morning for those Saturday games.

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