St. Regis football players may be changing their colors next year from green and gold to purple and white as the school looks to co-op with Mullan, Idaho. Over the past several years the St. Regis football program has had a difficult time filling their roster. Last year the team had to cancel the season with only a handful of players available to make up a team.
“Last year it was really tough on those three kids having to cancel football,” said St. Regis Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, Jesse Allan.
Over the past few years the team has just had enough to fill out the 6-man team. Next year the prospects don’t look much better with two seniors graduated and only two eighth-graders who may want to play. Allan said they’ve played as many games without substitutes or with less than six players as they have with subs and more than six players.
“In the three years that I’ve been here we have never dressed ten kids for the team,” he said.
The St. Regis School Board approved the potential merge with Mullan last week. If the teams merge, the three or four St. Regis players will go over and play 8-man football for Mullan High School which is located 44 miles west of St. Regis off of Interstate 90. The teams won’t change their mascot or school colors, the St. Regis players will go over and play on the Mullan team. Which by coincidence, also has a tiger for their mascot, the same as St. Regis.
The Mullan team has eight to 11 kids who want to play and they are open to the St. Regis players coming over to join their team. Allan invited them to come over to St. Regis and play 6-man ball but Mullan declined stating that there was concern over them not being able to come out of their division.
Other area teams were investigated for a co-op with St. Regis but there were no matches. The Montana High School Association (MHSA) was not favorable to a co-op with the Clark Fork Mountain Cats. That team is already a coop between Superior and Alberton. By adding St. Regis it would be too many students and MHSA rarely approves a three-school co-op. Though some schools on the Hi-line have three schools, such as Chester-Joplin-Inverness but they have low student populations.
When creating a co-op, the program combines all of the student body, not just the number of players. This can push some schools into a higher division. Both St. Regis and Alberton have about 40 students and Superior has 78.
Allan said they also approached Plains, Arlee and Hot Springs but those schools did not want to participate in a co-op. Plains, Hot Springs and Arlee want to remain in their current division and the co-op would push them into a higher bracket. Charlo has a sufficient team on their own and did not feel it would benefit them and were not interested.
There is a history of teams crossing state borders for example Froid-Medicine Lake, Mont. and Grenora, North Dakota. Both states carry their own insurance and so there are no concerns about crossing state lines. St. Regis parents and players are in favor of the move to Mullan.
“If they want to play, Mullan is the only option as this point,” said Allan. “The parents and kids are supportive. Nobody want to see their own team suspended but this is better than nothing.”
The Idaho Athletic Association still needs to approve the co-op and then St. Regis will submit paperwork to the MHSA to move forward and they will vote on it in April.
Mullan plays Idaho teams including Deary, Kootenai, Kendrick, Lakeside (Plummer), Lewis County Co-op, Timberline (Weippe) and Clark Fork, Idaho.