The Utica-Rome high school football rivalry that last week appeared alive and well has been put on hold once again after Section III athletic directors from Syracuse-area Class AA schools questioned the schedule change during a Central New York Counties League meeting this week.
The original 2010 schedule was changed recently to include a nonleague crossover game between Utica's Thomas R. Proctor High School and Rome Free Academy, preserving a rivalry that started in 1891. Utica and Rome have the oldest high school football rivalry in the state and one of the oldest in the country.
Other league members from the Syracuse area, however, might attempt to overturn that schedule change - made without a vote by the Section III football committee -- because they feel the proper procedure was not followed.
“Right now, there's no official schedule yet. It hasn't been ratified,” said Paul Muench, a Class AA member of Section III's football committee and the head coach at Fayetteville-Manlius High School for 10 years. “All parties are not on the same page right now. That's all I can say.”
Although still hopeful the teams will meet this fall, the news upset officials from each school and prompted state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, to send a letter to Section III Executive Director John Rathbun questioning the section's policies regarding the “backyard rivalry game” and suggesting future scheduling take travel costs and community pride into account.
Marty Nemecek, the director of physical education and athletics for the Utica City School District, expects a final decision in the next several days.
“There are a couple of schools who feel that it was wrong what they did,” Nemecek said of the schedule change. “Right now, it's still an ongoing process, but I think we're still going to have the game, I really do.
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