By Al Zipsie

The Durand-Pecatonica football co-op is now final.

"We have determined our mascot name and colors," said Durand Superintendent Kurt Alberstett. "We are officially the Du-Pec Rivermen. Our colors are royal blue (Durand) and Vegas Gold (Pecatonica)."

The schools already have a co-op in wrestling, cross country, boys and girls track and baseball.

"It has been tough to let go of the tradition that was 'Durand football,'" Alberstett said. "There are many wins and playoff appearances that bring back joyous memories for many people including myself. However, we are at a place to move forward and do what is best for the kids. The kids from both schools are excited to begin this new chapter of Du-Pec football."

"Tyler Hoffman has been hired as head coach," Alberstett added. "No other coaches have been named at this time."

Hoffman is a former Pecatonica football standout. For now, it leaves the former head coach of both schools up in the air in Dennis Schwab (Durand) and Eric Bergin (Pecatonica).

Last season, the two schools were the only winless teams in the NUIC. Both were 0-9.

Pecatonica once lost its program due to low turnout, forfeited the last two games of 2012 and did not field a team in 2013. Durand, once a proud program, was down to only eleven junior and senior players last year.

Durand and Pecatonica already merge in the youth football program. The seventh grade team was unbeaten. Hoffman has been part of the youth football success.

"I played at Pec in the mid 90s and then coached there for about eight years as frosh shop coach and then four as the varsity coordinator. " said Hoffman. "I went down about five years ago to build back our foundation, and had the opportunity to get back to the high school ranks."

The Du-Pec team will play in the NUIC with the larger enrollments. They now become the largest school in the NUIC.

Pecatonica currently has 256 students while Durand has fallen to 162. The Rivermen team name was selected by students at both schools.

"I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity to bring both schools together," said Hoffman. "More importantly, the kids are excited and that is a step in the right direction."

Pec will host the co-op debut home opener Aug. 25 and the Sept. 22 game. Durand will be the site for games on Sept. 8 and Oct 13.

Du-Pec was to play Chicago Luther North in week six, but that will need to be filled as Luther North is set to close its doors at the end of the school year.

The other league games will be in the NUIC with defending 1A state champion Forreston, Lena-Winslow, East Dubuque, West Carroll, Eastland/Pearl City, Galena, Amboy and Dakota.