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— 1-4A Conference athletic directors in

Benton County say Shiloh Christian's varsity football team has

nothing to gain by retaliating against the public schools because

of a vote they took this week to expel the private school's junior

high teams from the conference.

On the other hand, they say there is much to lose.

Shiloh Christian's varsity a year ago beat the three Benton

County 1-4A schools by a combined 171-17.

Last season, the private school won its fifth state football

championship in 10 years and second in the past three years.

Shiloh Christian is reported to be even stronger this season.

"I don't see that with Josh (Floyd, Shiloh Christian's coach),"

Gentry AD Brae Harper said when asked if Shiloh Christian

would score 100 points on the Pioneers if given the chance. "I

don't think he's that kind of person. I don't see retaliation by

Shiloh Christian. That's not the way I view them." Shiloh Christian humiliated Gentry 70-3 a year ago at Pioneer

Stadium.

The 1-4A athletic directors voted Monday to oust Shiloh

Christian Christian's junior high teams from the conference and

replace them with Huntsville Junior High starting in fall 2010.

All seven public schools supported the vote, the athletic di

rectors said.

"Nobody spoke against it," Gravette AD Norman Mitchell

said.

The vote came less than one week after the Governing Body

of the Arkansas Activities Association voted to place restrictions

on transfers to private schools that offer financial aid. The re

strictions go into effect on July 1 before the transfer enters sev

enth grade. After that date, they sit out for a full year.

"We don't feel like what's happened has solved any of the is

sues," Pea Ridge AD Larry Walker said.

Walker said continued lopsided victories by Shiloh Christian

would be counterproductive.

"I feel personally like this has been going on for a long time,"

he said. "Essentially, that's what has led us to this point. Per

sonally, I don't see that (retaliation) happening.

"It would only further validate the complaints that have been

raised. To go overboard would only put things in a worse light

than they already are." None of the three ADs cited any particular 1-4A school with

initiating the expulsion, which Berryville exercises this fall at the

direction of its school board.

"I can't specifically say that it was (Berryville), it drew the in

terest of everybody in our conference - superintendents andboards," Harper said. Gentry's board and superintendent signed off on his vote at a public meeting in June.

"We got their support before we did anything," he said. "The AAA knew this was coming. We discussed that this was a possibility with (AAA associate executive director) Joey Walters at the AAA meeting (Tuesday, Aug. 4). Everyone knew that this was a possibility at the next meeting we were going to have."

The AAA has been in contact with none of the Benton County athletic directors since the Monday vote, they each said.

The 1-4A schools will honor their junior high contracts with Shiloh Christian this year, they said. The ban covers all sports.

"It's been talked about for some time," Walker said. He said his school administrators and board are aware of the vote.

"For a majority of schools, this is going to be the feeling they share," he said of the vote.

Walker said high schools must play all members of their conferences or be ineligible for the state playoffs. The rule does not apply to junior high conferences.

He said some junior high conferences are formed by geography, such as the Northwest Arkansas Conference which expands to 10 teams in 2010. Siloam Springs joins the league next year, joining two teams from Benton county, two from Rogers, two from Fayetteville and three from Springdale. Harrison has played in the league previously.

"You have to play them in senior high but you don't have to play them in junior high," Walker said. "That's how the AAA has it set up. That's the route schools have elected to go."

Mitchell called the 1-4A schools' decision to ban Shiloh Christian Junior High "a very delicate and difficult situation." He said he hopes Shiloh Christian understands the seriousness of running up football scores on public schools this fall.

"I really hope so," he said. "I don't believe Shiloh Christian will try and retaliate. The feelings of schools within the athletic realm are not very brotherly right now.

"We're going to have to start moving in that direction. You keep hearing that this is not fair to Shiloh Christian's kids. Well, the reason we did what we did was because we didn't feel like what was going on was fair to our kids."

Mitchell said as a basketball coach at Gentry he once ran up the score on a team, topping 100 points.

"I made the mistake one time and did that," he said. "It physically upset me after the game. We don't get that feeling from them (Shiloh Christian); it doesn't seem to bother them."

The athletic directors said they expect further proposals addressing public-private competition to surface in 2010.

Shiloh Christian opens defense of its 1-4A Conference title Sept. 25, hosting Berryville.

Sports, Pages 6 on 08/19/2009

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