Crowville fighting to stay open

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

It was ironic the whole turn of events Thursday with Crowville’s home playoff game against University. Rains hit in the first inning, and Crowville head coach Jimmy Comeaux needed a place to play instead of just calling it.

Winnsboro’s field was underwater, so Comeaux called his good friend, VHS head coach Johnny Lee Hoffpauir, to finish in Vidalia. University won the contest to end Crowville’s season and, turns out, maybe their athletic program entirely.

The Franklin Parish School Board voted April 22 to close Crowville, a tough decision to swallow for residents there and schools in District 4-2A.

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The loss Thursday was especially tough for a team playing to keep its school open.

&uot;That definitely was on the minds of the players and myself,&uot; Comeaux said. &uot;We tried to have as good a showing as we could because we don’t know what the future holds. We had seven seniors, and they knew it was going to be their last game. The other kids &045; it’s kind of up in the air. We’ve got some things in the works to keep it open.&uot;

The school board voted to consolidate Crowville with Winnsboro and shut down three elementary schools after parish residents voted down a 1-cent sales tax and a 25-mill, 20-year property tax April 17.

While the community fights to keep the school open, coaches at Vidalia and Ferriday are now looking at a potential open date in every sport next year. But no sport will be impacted like baseball and softball at Vidalia since 4-2A two teams play softball and three baseball.

&uot;It’ll just crater our schedule for next year,&uot; Hoffpauir said. &uot;We’ve been in this situation before. Back in the late 1980s we didn’t have a team in our district. In April everybody is playing in district, and you’re looking around the state for a game. Next year with our games &045; I try not to think about it. I don’t know what we’re going to do next April.&uot;

It would put an open date in football since it’s coming in an even-numbered year (schools design football schedules every two years). There are also rumblings in Tensas Parish that Newellton may close, which could put the Vikings on an eight-game schedule this fall.

Then there’s Vidalia softball, who could enter the 2005 season already crowned district champs.

&uot;I don’t think the Crowville people will go down without a fight,&uot; VHS softball coach Gary Paul Parnham said. &uot;It’s going to put us in a bind. We’ll be the only team in the district, which basically means we don’t have a district. We might have to travel to another state to play games.&uot;

Folks in Crowville aren’t going down without a fight, and the situation may be far from over. There is a Plan B on the table that would keep Crowville open for grades 7 through 12 that, according to Comeaux, would save $800,000.

&uot;There’s been things that have been done that haven’t made a whole lot of sense,&uot; Comeaux said. &uot;But I really appreciate Coach Hoffpauir and all the folks in Vidalia for letting us come down and finish our ball game. They were very friendly and did everything they could to accommodate us. It worked out fine.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or at