High school sports fans across Central Nebraska will soon see maroon, silver and black and not orange and red. Starting this fall Loup County and Sargent High School begin their first season as cooperating schools in high school activities, except for football. Loup County and Sargent will begin playing football together in the fall of 2012. Officials from both schools are energized about the transition.
“I think the co-op is perfect for both communities,” said Jeff Bachman, Activities Director for Loup County and Sargent. “Our numbers (Loup County) have been going down over time. It came to a point when we didn’t know if there was going to be enough kids going out for any given sport.”
Currently, Sargent has a solid amount of students going out for sports, but Cory Grint, the Principal at Sargent High School, believes in the long-term it’s vital to start the co-op.
“Right now we have a number of students out for activities and sports. We’ve seen various communities across the state and even locally co-op schools when they could fully support all their activities,” said Grint. “We’re at the point when we’ll have enough kids to play a game, but not have enough kids to practice.”
Both administrators are quick to point out sports will now be safer because students will be able to practice in an appropriate manner.
“It’s no secret that when a student steps on to the field of competition there’s a risk for injury. There’s always going to be sprained ankles, cuts and scratches,” Bachman said. “Now we’ll be able to teach the athletes the proper way to tackle in football, take a charge in basketball and various habits to play the right way and lower the chances of serious injury.”
Grint reiterated the points made by Bachman.
“Without a doubt safety is the top priority for the kids. When there’s more kids to practice it makes it easier to coach properly,” said Grint. “A coach can identify a situation when technique is not right, and fix it before they hurt themselves.”
The communities of Taylor and Sargent are excited and looking forward to the change.
“Our kids are excited and both communities are excited,” Bachman said. “I know for some people were sad to see the Wildcat go and we aren’t going to forget that tradition. We’ll remember the past and move to the future.”
“At first kids were a little down that they’ll not be a Sargent Bulldog anymore. After the various meetings with them they soon became excited,” Grint said. “The kids just want to have fun and win, and that increases that for them in the co-op.”
The schools will rotate between hosting events based on which school is closer to the opponent.
The reason why Sargent and Loup County are waiting to join in football is because the classification period for football is every two years and the other activities is every year. Since Sargent and Loup County will begin the second year of their classification it was decided to wait a year. Sargent and Loup County had the opportunity to join, but would have been deemed ineligible by the Nebraska High School Sports and Activities Association (NHSAA). With the recent success of the program it was agreed to wait the year. Sargent returns the majority of their roster from their appearance in last year’s Class D-2 State Championship and Loup County looks to make noise in six-man football.
“We believe we’ll have a strong year in football. It wouldn’t be fair to the kids or both communities to miss out on the playoffs when they have the chance to compete in the state playoffs.” Grint said. “But I’m excited to see the co-op grow and the growth the two communities will see.”
The first chance to see the Twin Loup Wolves in action is in volleyball, Sept. 1 at the Ansley Triangular.
Also, for wrestling fans the co-op between Burwell, Loup County and Sargent will continue.