By MICHAEL KELLY
For the Express
The release of the 2012 Section II high school football schedule should have been nothing but a positive for the programs at Broadalbin-Perth and Fonda-Fultonville.
The Patriots have an easier start, competition-wise, to their season than in recent years, with the program feeling like it is on the way up as head coach Jim Pelneau heads into his second year as the team’s head coach.
Meanwhile, in Fonda, the Braves are coming off a trip to the Section II Class C Super Bowl, with head coach Tom Carpenter believing last year’s run should help set his team up for a great deal of success next season.
But, oh, those pesky school budgets are presenting a pretty formidable roadblock.
With budget issues threatening to cut athletics at several local schools — including B-P and F-F — and more schools across Section II, there’s a chance next football season’s schedule could look a whole lot different than the one currently out there.
“We really couldn’t base [making the schedule] on who might have a program and who might not have a program,” said Section II football chairman Gary VanDerzee. “We went forward assuming everyone would have a program and, if they don’t, we’ll have to adjust.”
While late preseason adjustments to the schedule are not exactly rare, having to do so would be especially tough for next season. For the first time in several years, the Section II football schedule is set as being perfectly constructed, in the sense that no team has to play an out-of-section opponent.
“It took a lot of work and cooperation between the different classifications to achieve that,” said F-F athletic director Alex Mancini, a member of the Section II football committee. “Now, the [problem] is the budgetary issues because the governor, in his divine and infinite wisdom, didn’t do any favors to the localities. So, that’s an ongoing process.”
That process is not an easy one to sit through for the coaches of the Braves and the Patriots, who won’t know for at least a few week whether their teams will be competing next fall.
“There’s so much speculation out there, it’s hard to say,” said Carpenter. “Right now, there’s nothing in stone. ... But I’m definitely hoping things work out. Nothing is guaranteed, but I’m hopeful.”
In his first full offseason as the head coach at B-P, Pelneau has put several things — a team study hall and extra workout sessions, to name a couple — in place to help his program grow, but not knowing whether he actually has a season to prepare for is tough. Still, the coach said he is forging full-steam ahead with getting his team ready for its potential season.
“The thing is, from my perspective, we always talk about controlling what we can control,” said Pelneau. “Right now, we can control how we get ready for next year. ... The worst thing we could do is let [the budgetary uncertainty] get us down and then we’re not prepared; then, Week 1 comes around, and we’re not ready. I’m not going to let that happen.”
B-P athletic director Adam Barnhart said he will not know for sure whether his school’s football — or any team — will be taking to the playing surface next year for at least a few more weeks. Even after that, if sports are cut, Barnhart couldn’t say with any certainty when schools like his would officially withdraw from the already-put-together athletic schedules for next school year.
“In terms of a timeline, we’d like to let everyone know as soon as possible,” said Barnhart. “But, at the same time, we want to fight to the bitter end.”