The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Columnists

October 7, 2012

CORY ISENBERG| Lonely Lions looking for company

JOHNSTOWN — Chestnut Ridge is courting a new conference relationship for football.

In late September, the Ridge school board voted unanimously to give Lions Athletic Director Mark Clevenger the green light to send a letter of application to the Mountain League for football only, beginning in 2014.

The Lions, currently playing as an independent, have been all over the map, literally, in order to fill out their football schedule.

The squad has been operating without a football league affiliation since the Inter-County Conference realigned without including the Lions in 2008.

The school had been a member of the Mountain Athletic Conference, but withdrew without ever playing a game.

That situation resulted in Clevenger filling out the Ridge schedule with trips to Reading, Wingate, Kutztown and Maryland this season.

They are currently touting a 3-3 mark and have already lost road games to Berks Catholic (47-0) and Bald Eagle (28-26).

The Lions picked up their first road win Friday with their 34-0 shutout at Mountain Ridge, Md., and have road trips to Kutztown and Fort Hill, Md., the next two weeks.

Chestnut Ridge, a Class AA school, appeared to be ready to rejoin the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference last year, but the LHAC requires an even number of members and there was no other school to join with the Lions.

Prior to this season, Chestnut Ridge was affiliated with the WestPAC, filling in on many of that leagues extra spots. But the new alliance between the WestPAC and the Heritage Conference filling each others’ empty slots left the Lions once again out in the cold.

This year, the Lions faced seven new opponents, quite a challenge for any team and coaching staff.

Should Ridge be accepted into the Mountain League, it would be the ninth member, and its longest trips would be to Clearfield and Penns Valley in Spring Mills (Centre County).

The other members of the conference include Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola, which lost to Ridge earlier this season, Tyrone, Huntingdon, Bellefonte and Central, which beat the Lions in the season opener.

The Lions will find out their fate after the league’s next meeting, which is not until Nov. 7.

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