By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Over the years, Goshen and Fairfield high schools have cultivated a pretty spirited rivalry in a number of sports.
But that rivalry has never included football.
School officials this week reached an agreement for Goshen and Fairfield to play each other in their respective season openers from 2015-18.
The arrangement came together quickly over the past few weeks, according to Fairfield athletic director Mark Hofer.
With the coming reconfiguration of the Northeast Corner Conference — the conference Fairfield plays in — the first two weeks of the Falcons’ upcoming football schedules were open. Fairfield recently filled its Week 2 opening with Northern Lakes Conference member NorthWood and thought it had an agreement with another area school for a Week 1 matchup, but that fell through.
Hofer said extending the two schools athletic relationship to the gridiron made sense on several levels — geographic proximity being just one.
And with the natural rivalries that have cropped up over the years in other sports, including basketball and tennis, Hofer said the football rivalry will develop quickly.
“I can see the kids talking about it at the (Elkhart County) Fair,” Hofer said.
Goshen athletic director Larry Kissinger said he is excited about the upcoming matchup between the two neighboring schools.
Kissinger, too, said he had been working with another area school for a Week 1 game to replace the relationship with Carroll, which ends next year.
But those discussions, Kissinger said, were not fruitful in the end because one school would have had three home games and six away games one year, with that unbalanced schedule flip-flopping in alternate years.
And when most schools depend heavily on the dollars brought in by revenue-producing sports like football, an unbalanced schedule would have been a tough sell, Kissinger said.
The matchup will be a good deal for both communities, Kissinger said.
“I’m already looking forward to that first game over at Fairfield,” Kissinger said.
The two schools will play at Fairfield in 2015, Goshen in 2016, Fairfield in 2017 and Goshen in 2018.
Kissinger said the four-year deal could be extended, but that would depend on a number of factors down the road, especially the possibility of conference realignment
Fairfield was created in the late 1960s during a wave of school consolidations in Indiana. It’s a product of the consolidation of New Paris and Millersburg schools. According to former Goshen News sports editor Stu Swartz, neither school had football programs before the consolidation.
Football on the varsity level was established at Fairfield in 1972 after a junior varsity schedule the year before, Swartz said.