By Todd Palmatier

Some new ventures are taking shape in high school sports, and it’s no different in small school districts like Ellicottville and Franklinville for varsity and JV football. With number levels low for football in small schools, it has been getting harder to field both varsity and JV squads, which was forcing schools to put younger and less experienced players onto the gridiron at the varsity level.

As the 2013 season came to a close, both schools opened discussions of a football merger and struck a deal quickly. The numbers showed that it was going to work for both districts, with both varsity and JV programs sporting 25-plus student athletes.

The teams have yet to decide on a mascot, but it will be decided by the communities in a joint venture for 2015 and beyond. The football program will also wear Ellicottville uniforms when games are at ECS, and Franklinville uniforms when games are in Franklinville.

The Ellicottville/Franklinville football squad took on the combined football team from Clymer and Sherman on Friday, Sept. 6 at Ray Grey Memorial field on the ECS campus. Under the direction of second-year coach Chad Bartoszek, the boys came ready to play, scoring on their first two possessions and racing out to a 20-0 halftime lead. The team came out in the second half and kept the pressure on, marching to a 33-16 victory.

Junior quarterback Tommy Easton helped lead the offensive charge scoring with two touchdowns — one passing and one rushing. He had 61 passing yards and 46 rushing yards. Senior tailback Phalla Musall carried the ball 17 times for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. Senior Ben Erickson, with one touchdown reception, was the recipient of most of the receiving yards.

The defense was led by sophomore Zach Rathbun, and seniors Callum Watt and Alex Delity, who led the team in tackles. There were some solid hits and great open field tackles made by both teams, but some impressive hits and tackles came from junior Caleb Rinko.

In talking with coaches after the game, they all lauded Rinko stating, “It’s going to be difficult keeping him off the playing field.”

Bartoszek said, “It was a great night for our two communities. We had a great turnout from both schools fans.”

He also said the TEAM came to play, they were excited and that it showed on the field

“They played hard and got right after it,” he commented.

Some parents and fans also agreed it was exciting and the game was awesome.

One dad said, “It’s not every night you also see 30-plus JV players on the sidelines rooting on their squad. Very impressive and the prospective of football is very promising here!”

Coach Tim Bergan, Scott Palmatier and Harley Butler took the combined team Ellicottville-Franklinville JV football team to Sherman, N.Y., on Monday, Sept. 8 to take on the combined teams from Sherman, Clymer and Panama and capitalized on a 22-0 victory to take their record to 1-0.

In girls’ varsity soccer, the Eagles got off to a rough start to begin their season, suffering losses to class A school Jamestown 5-2 last Thursday, and Allegany-Limestone 8-0, but returned the favor to Allegany-Limestone on Monday with a 2-0 victory. The girls’ JV soccer team started out with a 1-0 victory on Friday night over Fillmore.

Little Eagles football season has kicked into high gear this year as well, with both the Pee-Wees and Midgets racing to 2-0 records. The Pee-Wees beat back the Cattaraugus Cowboys and the Allegany-Limestone Gators under the direction of Coach Brad Hurley. Next, they take on the Franklinville Panthers this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at ECS.

The Midgets under the direction of first-year Head Coach Tim Grinols have also raced out to a 2-0 record and will also take on the Panthers immediately following the Pee Wee game this Sunday.