New Castle News Opinion

An interesting — and disturbing — situation has come to light in regard to the Tri-County Youth Football League.

It appears that the two New Castle teams — New Castle Red and New Castle Black — no longer are welcome to compete in the league, stemming from, as a league commissioner said, concerns following a shooting outside New Castle High’s Taggart Stadium during a youth game last August.

The county teams that play in the league have made it known, according to commissioner Ryan Miles of Laurel, that they no longer feel comfortable traveling to Taggart. New Castle High coach Joe Cowart, who began overseeing New Castle’s youth football program earlier this year, says that the city teams were never informed that they were being ousted. Miles counters that, even though a vote never was taken, the league was under the impression that New Castle already was looking elsewhere after athletic directors from New Castle and Laurel spoke. But Miles admitted that, while a formal vote to oust New Castle from the league did not take place, it likely was only a formality had it occurred.

The “he said, she said,” at this point, is neither here nor there.

The dilemma is that, just two months before practice starts, the Grade 3-6 teams that form New Castle’s feeder program, no longer have a place to play. The New Castle youth teams were started by late Red Hurricane coaching legend Lindy Lauro in 1963, before Joe Pazak and KIDS, Inc., then the late Sam Flora Sr., took over. It was, for many years, an honor to play youth football at New Castle, where many future professional and college stars honed their skills.

We acknowledge that the shooting is extremely serious and cannot be ignored. Even though it happened outside a stadium gate, it occurred at a venue owned by New Castle High School. The lives of over 150 players and coaches were put in danger, not to mention a large crowd in the stands whose exact number was undetermined. The shooter is awaiting trial.

In speaking with both Cowart and Miles last week, we learned that the two had never even spoken. That finally changed and both said they are willing to see what can be worked out for the good of the kids.

But we already are into May. League practices begin in just over two months. Schedules are close to being finalized. Ellwood City and Riverside teams already have been added to the league.

Cowart wants New Castle back into the league, even if it means that perhaps the city teams would not play home games. Miles is suggesting an affiliation with the Tri-County and a similar league in Beaver County, where the New Castle teams could play against bigger teams more their size.

That is going to be tough to pull off with the season so close. Children’s lives and athletic futures will be affected by the decisions that are made in upcoming days.

We urge New Castle to agree to play this season’s games on the road and the powers that be in the Tri-County to consider amending the schedule and allowing the city teams back in.

It’s not about the adults, it’s about the children, after all.

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