Questions have swirled around St. Mary Central Catholic’s ability to schedule seven non-league games with just three league games in the Sandusky River League, which begins next school year.
But instead of getting stuck traveling hours to play non-league opponents, the Panther football team’s furthest trip from home will be 37 miles one way.
“We certainly worked hard to make sure we would link up with as many local schools as possible, in particular to play schools our size in enrollment,” St. Mary Athletic Director Denny Faber said. “We’re pretty pleased that it’s worked out so well.”
The Panthers will open 2014 at home against longtime Week 1 opponent St. Paul. The Panthers and Flyers have met every year in the season opener since 1976.
In Week 2, the Panthers travel to Plymouth, a 35-mile trip to play another Firelands Conference opponent. The normal Week 3 slot with Danbury remains the same, while Week 4 will be a trip to Buckeye Central, the farthest road trip on the schedule.
Back-to-back home games the following two weeks will include Seneca East and Lakota, while Week 7 will be a familiar trip south to Edison.
With the Sandusky Bay Conference at seven teams with SMCC leaving, the remaining schools will need a fourth non-conference game.
After hosting Fostoria St. Wendelin in Week 8, the Panthers also host Margaretta in Week 9.
“We were able to maintain two of the SBC schools, and almost had a third last minute,” Faber said. “Maybe that will change in the future. There has been a lot of questions and people wondering about the new league. We’re a firm, solid six schools and our schedule is set for 2014 and 2015.”
SMCC’s final game of the season beginning next year will be rival Fremont St. Joseph, which will be a road game in 2014.
Being able to maintain four area schools and avoid lengthy bus rides, Faber is more than pleased with how the 2014 schedule turned out.
“There’s been a lot of work so far to get this schedule,” he said. “I worked throughout the summer, but there is certainly plenty more to do to make sure everything is in place for next school year.
“We do have some exciting school announcements that will come out soon for our entire school,” Faber added. “Our high school enrollment is also up, so we’re pleased with the start of the new year.”
Faber said SMCC has five games already under contract for the 2015 season.
Currently, the SRL includes SMCC, SJCC, Lakota, St. Wendelin, Old Fort and New Riegel. The latter two do no field football teams.
“Everything is the same right now as announced last winter,” Faber said of the SRL. “If there are any changes, we will make that public as soon as something would be solid.”