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High School Sports

High school football preview 2011: PAC finds fine fits in Firelands, Fairview


The addition of Firelands and Fairview to the Patriot Athletic Conference has already made an impact.

The conference's website is still, but when you access the site you're welcomed to

As far as the PAC's longtime members are concerned, the expansion of the conference from 10 schools to 12 means only there's another team on the schedule that has to be defeated.

"We only have to take care of our business," said coach Al Young of Black River, last season's Stars Division champion.

For the new members, however, it's a chance to join schools with enrollments similar to their own.

"We like the size balance," said John Carter, athletic director at Fairview. "We think it will be more competitive for us and produce more opportunities for our athletes."

Firelands and Fairview came from the West Shore Conference, where they were the smallest of the eight schools. Average male enrollment at the six other WSC schools in 2010 was 375, more than 100 boys more than each of the two schools that are now living in the PAC.

Average boys enrollment in the Stars Division is 239. The Stripes Division averages 186 boys per school.

"We're very excited to get started," Firelands coach Mike Passarrello said. "We think this is where we belong."

"It was a shock to be in the West Shore," said Firelands senior linebacker and fullback Joe Kudela. "We now know that the teams we play are all from schools about the same size as ours."

The PAC has been a conference since 2005.

Firelands has a history with three of its new divisional rivals. The Falcons were members of the Lorain County Conference - as were Brookside, Keystone and Wellington - for almost 20 years. Before that, the four were in the Inland Conference with three Stripes Division schools.

"I would almost consider it like coming back home," Firelands athletic director Leo Spagnola said. "There's a lot of intertwined history between these schools, and that excites us as much as anything this year."

Spagnola added that a few WSC schools were "heading in a different direction" from Firelands. He added that while the proverbial playing field is more level, dominance isn't guaranteed

"We don't believe we're going to win everything, but we're in good company," Spagnola said. "We will have to work for everything, and some sports in the PAC are real good. But you want an equal playing field."

Contact Steve Byrne at 329-7135 or

“We’re very excited to get started. We think this is where we belong.”

Firelands coach Mike Passarrello on the move to the PAC

2010-11 boys enrollment

West Shore Conference

Midview            490

North Ridgeville              455

Avon 354

Rocky River     349

Vermilion         305

Bay    296

Firelands          266

Fairview            220

PAC Stars Division

Buckeye            302

Brookside         247

Keystone          225

Black River       212

Wellington        209

PAC Stripes Division

Clearview         237

Brooklyn          209

Lutheran West 165

Oberlin             165

Columbia         153

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