William Allen and Dieruff will join the Mountain Valley Conference in football beginning in 2012 for at least the next four years, it was announced at a press conference held by the Allentown School District on Tuesday.
The two Lehigh Valley Conference schools announced their plans to leave their conference for the MVC, making the Mountain Valley Conference a nine-team league.
The vote by the Mountain Valley Conference was 6-1 in favor of adding Allen and Dieruff for football. The only vote against the expansion was cast by Lehighton.
Lehighton Athletic Director Kyle Spotts said the no vote was more because of the subtractions it would cause to the Indian football schedule than it was about the additions of the two Allentown School District teams.
"Right now, we play six MVC games and four non-league games. All four of those non-league games are local, rivalry-type games," Spotts said referring to the current arrangement with Jim Thorpe, Marian, Panther Valley and Tamaqua. "With the expansion to a nine-team league, we will lose two of those games.
"Not only are all four of those teams great rivals, but they are our biggest games at the gate as well. We didn't want to lose two of those games."
But Lehighton will be forced to lose them. Which brings up the question of which non-league teams will stay and which will go?
Spotts said that he has been told by the MVC schedule makers that it looks like Lehighton's non-league openings will be in week 1 and week 10. Currently, Marian is Indians' opening week opponent and Jim Thorpe is the week 10 opponent.
Mark Brown. East Stroudsburg South Athletic Director and MVC football chairman, confirmed that his morning.
"I make the schedule and to make it as easy of a transition as possible, the league schedule will run from week two through ten," he said. "So schools will have a non-league opponent to open the season and then another on their bye week. Lehighton's bye week has always been Week 10 and will stay that way."
So does that mean Panther Valley and Tamaqua will be off the schedule? Not necessarily according to Spotts.
"Nothing is definite with the scheduling yet. Everything is still tentative," said Spotts. "A few of the league teams weren't happy with the dates for their non-league games, so things could still change.
"In addition, all four of our current non-league opponents play in the Anthracite Football League, so if their league changes any of the schedules that could impact us as well."
Spotts does expect to get the official league schedule soon.
"I'm sure they will work to get it out as quickly as possible since every team in the MVC will have to drop a couple of non-league opponents," he said. "We have already notified the area athletic directors at the schools that this could impact.
"Now we just have to wait until things are finalized."
Brown also hopes the two schools will eventually join the league as member for all sports.
"This is a big step, make no bones about it," he said. "We've been seeking more teams sincde as far back as 2001. A seven-team league just isn't the best situation.
"The talks with the Allentown School District just started within the last couple of weeks and we basically kept it quiet. In the past, when we thought we had chances of making some changes, they always seemed to sour when the word got out before plans were finalized."
The majority of MVC coaches thought the move was a positive one and will improve the level of competition.
"Demographically, the Allentown schools and the Monroe County schools have a lot in common," Brown added. "We also understand why Lehighton might be concerned, but we're still happy that it is still with us."
TIMES NEWS Managing Sports Editor Ed Hedes also contributed to this story.