Dayton’s request for 2A denied

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RENO — The NIAA Board of Control denied Dayton High School’s request to move down to 2A for athletics Wednesday morning at Wooster High School.

Dayton sent several speakers to the podium to address the BOC — principal Steve Henderson, athletic director Cory Sanford, basketball coaches Kelly Frantz and Jason Santos, football coach Pat Squires and track/basketball assistant Kevin Ply, plus two parents.

While the Dayton contingent admitted they would be the biggest school in 2A, Henderson also pointed out Dayton is the smallest Northern 3A school, often competing against schools twice its size. Their main argument was that they want an opportunity to be competitive again so they could move back up to 3A.

Dayton has had trouble competing in the 3A for the last few years. The school had the support of Jeff Knutson, Fernley athletic director, and Lowry principal Ray Parks, who said the Dust Devils were having trouble being competitive. According to Dayton officials, Fallon also was supportive.

Bart Thompson, the NIAA executive director, wondered why Dayton didn’t bring its proposal to the Board of Control much earlier. Thompson indicated that schools were asked to come forward more than a year ago if they were unhappy with their alignment.

The BOC allowed Valley-Las Vegas with an enrollment of 2,900 students to move down to 3A last month. Valley officials essentially sighted inability to compete as their reason for their petition to move down. Dayton officials assumed it was too late to apply until the Valley decision.

The Dayton group got up en masse and left the building once the decision was announced, and the Board of Control took a break before continuing with the rest of the agenda.

“The meeting at Wooster was a joke,” said Laura Trethan, a Dayton parent, who has one child currently enrolled and a couple of more who will eventually attend Dayton. “The NIAA does not value the safety of all of our Dayton athletes. All Dayton wants to do is be able to compete on a level playing field.

“It is about the safety of our kids, too. We have more sophomores that have to play up on varsity (for football) just to fill rosters. Dayton is a school that doesn’t want a (participation) trophy, we just want an opportunity to compete for one (a trophy).”

Squires agreed.

“They didn’t take safety into concern at all,” said Squires, who told the assembled audience that he has had trouble with amount of players since he arrived at Dayton.

Squires went over the amount of injuries that his team has suffered the last two years. He has lamented the fact that many sophomores won’t come out for football because they know they would have to play varsity, and many aren’t physically ready for that.

In an e-mail to Donnie Nelson, NIAA assistant commissioner, Pershing County athletic director Mike Brooks, who also serves as the Northern 2A president, said the vote was 8-1 against Dayton moving down. Brooks said Pershing abstained from the vote.

Brooks said most of the argument against Dayton surrounded enrollment. Some schools argued through e-mails that were included in the agenda packet presented to board members that schedules had already been set for the coming school year, and adding a school would present problems.

A vocal opponent at Wednesday’s meeting was Bill Darrow, the athletic administrator at Needles High, a non-voting member.

Darrow said all of the Southern Nevada 2A schools opposed Dayton moving down, adding that maybe Dayton should consider independent status.

Henderson was quick to point out that Dayton would have a hard time filling schedules if it were forced to go independent, especially in football.

Board member Rollins Stallworth said that Dayton’s presentation was much more thorough than Valley’s.

“Our numbers have come down,” Henderson told the audience at the beginning of the school’s presentation. “We haven’t been very successful across the board. It’s hard to get kids involved if we’re not performing well on the field.”

Sanford, who is leaving Dayton for Fernley later this month, pointed out that Dayton had a .287 winning percentage across the board. The football team has just one win in three seasons. Both basketball programs had losing seasons last year. The girls, unfortunately, are coming off back-to-back 3-23 seasons.

“Pershing County (Lovelock) has beaten us regularly in football,” Sanford said. “Girls basketball has lost to 1A and 2A teams the past few years.”

Sanford went on to point out that five 2A schools had bigger varsity football rosters than Dayton had last season.

Squires pointed out that for the last five games he suited up 18 players; the last eight games were played with a running clock in the second half; and, against the top half of the league Dayton was outscored by an average of 42-6.

“I have a passion for the game and the kids,” Squires said. “I wanted to change the culture and the atmosphere.”

Unless something happens, Dayton will have to wait two years to apply again.


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