Low Participation Forces Change for HS Football Teams

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In what might be considered a trend, some high school football programs around the country are contracting their offerings citing low participation numbers.

The Toledo Blade reports that Toledo (Ohio) Christian High School is expecting just 15 players to be on its football roster this year — a number that includes five incoming freshman. The athletic director and football coach considered dropping football, or playing at a JV level for the year, but instead have opted to play an eight-man football schedule this season.

“The safety of the kids, and the amount of wear and tear that they would have to endure to finish an 11-man game, let alone a season, would be tough,” AD Tim Wensink told the Blade. “This is more of a safety thing. We still want to offer football to our kids that want to play football.” 

The move will throw the school’s schedule into wack, making them unable to compete with teams within its conference or against the other three teams on its schedule. The teams TC was scheduled to play will now have byes on those weeks. TC is reportedly looking north of the border to Michigan, where 77 schools compete in eight-man football.

Elsewhere, Waynesboro (Va.) High School has canceled its junior varsity football schedule for the 2019 season for similar reasons.

The News Leader reports that the school’s roster of high school football players is only 28 strong, with four freshmen and 15 sophomores. Virginia High School League recommendations suggest that schools with fewer than 25 players don’t offer a football program. By canceling the JV season, the school will still be able to field a varsity program. 

Participation figures reported by the National Federation of State High School Associations show that for the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year for which participation data is available, about 20,000 fewer students participated in 11-man football than the previous year nationwide.

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