December 4, 2021

Purple Tigers looking for a game

Two days into practice for the upcoming season, the Cortland High football team’s game schedule suddenly shrank.

The Purple Tigers were to have hosted Oswego Sept. 23 for Homecoming in their fourth game of the fall, but Tuesday night the Oswego City School District’s Board of Education decided that the program would only field a junior varsity team this fall.

The district had decided last spring to eliminate a number of sports, including varsity football, but donations brought the sport back. At what level depended on the number of players who came out when practice opened Monday. According to the Oswego County News, that number was 40, but included only eight seniors and 10 juniors.

“I just found out tonight at practice,” CHS head coach Pete Reif said Wednesday. “We were told at a mandatory rules meeting Sunday night that Oswego didn’t think it could field a varsity team; now it’s official. Kevin DeParde, the section’s Class A coaches’ representative, has looked all over in other sections for teams with openings, but no one had any. It would have been nice if Oswego had decided they wouldn’t be able to field a varsity team a while ago.”

“We’re looking everywhere,” DeParde said when contacted Wednesday night. The Section 3 football coordinator, Bob Campese, and I have sent feelers out; we’ve looked at Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Long Island, even into Pennsylvania. It’s going to be a week-to-week thing because this happened so late.

“And finding a game is one thing, but then who’s willing to travel? If a good matchup could be found with a team from Long Island, the teams could split the difference both ways and each could travel, playing somewhere like Albany.”

“We’re losing a home game, our Homecoming game,” Reif said. “Playing a team from Long Island in Albany isn’t going to happen for us. If a team wants to travel and play us we’ll probably play. We’re not going to play a team that’s way larger, but we’ll play most teams who are willing to come to us. We don’t want to travel a long distance in the middle of the season.

“At that point it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be able to heal up a bit and get ready for the second half of the season, especially with the numbers we have (26 varsity players). We have less players than most teams.”