The Last Hurrah?


November 16, 2003

It was homecoming at Westmar High School in Lonaconing last weekend, with the Wildcats taking on their longtime foe, the Mountaineers from Frostburg's Beall Senior High. It was a traditional event in many ways, even considering some of the changes that have happened over the past few years. The schools, for instance, located about 8 1/2 miles apart, have combined a lot of things: the football game is homecoming for both schools; both "royal courts" are introduced; both bands perform. That kind of consolidation doesn't sit well with everyone at either school, but even less so at Westmar, where it seems like another step toward the schools' eventual merger. There is a proposal to build a new high school in the Westmar district of Allegany County. But the folks in Lonaconing, a little town with one stoplight and about 1,250 residents, still think Westmar's days may be numbered. A declining economy has shrunk enrollment to just 400 students, one of the smallest among the state's public high schools. And, despite recent renovations to Westmar, only an eleventh-hour compromise kept it open this fall. All of this made last weekend more poignant - might it be the last Westmar homecoming? For homecoming king and football player Dan Duncan, his team's 43-0 loss to Beall was doubly crushing. "There's no more football for us," the senior lamented. But junior quarterback Russ Miller wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel. "Forget about football now," he told the team. "We have basketball coming up. We'll get them then."

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