This wouldn't have been possible five years ago. It wouldn't even have been possible last year.
But rules have changed.
In the preseason, we learned that Hoopeston Area was going to play only a junior varsity football schedule this year, with hopes of returning to varsity status in the future. A ways south on Rt. 1, Schlarman started the season with a football team and played three varsity games.
Now, due to lack of healthy and eligible players, Schlarman has forfeited its Week 4 and Week 5 games. A decision is forthcoming about the remainder of the season.
Why not have these schools join forces in a co-op situation next season? The IHSA never allowed it in the past, but it's now possible in a very limited manner. This school year marks the first time that scenario could happen.
A private school can enter into a cooperative agreement with a public school to field an athletic team as long as the private school has no more than 200 students in its high school. The enrollment at Schlarman is well under that number. The listed enrollment with the IHSA is 145, based on the number of students in 2011-12.
Since there is some participation interest in football at both high schools,. they should consider joining forces starting next year. There are plenty of successful co-ops in the area (Catlin and Jamaica forming Salt Fork immediately comes to mind) and there's no reason this plan wouldn't work. The IHSA also indicated it made no difference that there is another school district in between Schlarman and Hoopeston (Bismarck-Henning), so the green light has been given.
The ball is now in the hands of administrators. It won't help with the situations that have occurred this year (Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman missed its homecoming game last week and -- if Schlarman forfeits the remainder of the season -- Catlin and Westville could be without homecoming opponents in the weeks ahead) but it can help bring some stability to the Vermilion Valley Conference for the future.
Doesn't that seem like a win-win scenario?