Roster Woes Looming Over Raiders’ Season
When you have less that 20 players on a football roster for an eight-man game, losing players to various reasons is always a concern for a coach and school administrators. For coaches, avoiding injuries to players your players is always the paramount concern, but when injuries occur and deplete your roster, things begin to look grim in a hurry.
Sadly, such is the scenario these days for the Ruthven-Ayrshire Raider football program. After starting the 2011 season back on Aug. 19 with a roster of 16 players, the Raiders now find themselves in the precarious position of having just 13 players available for game nights five of those players are freshmen and one is a sophomore. And, there are still six weeks of the football season remaining.
Ruthven-Ayrshire plays the eight-man game of football in District two along with fellow Palo Alto County teams West Bend-Mallard and Graettinger-Terril. However, the Raiders have had a couple of players lost to season-ending injuries, and a third player open-enrolled from the Ruthven-Ayrshire district just before the start of the season to exacerbate the situation.
“Some concerns came us, just as far as safety of the players, considering that we just have the eight that are upper classmen,” explained Ruthven-Ayrshire Superintendent Dr. Noreen Bunt. “For them to play the entire game would be exhausting for them and we worried about injury in that respect, and we also worried about injury putting freshmen in against upperclassmen from other teams.”
The concerns over injury weren’t the only concerns that have arisen over the situation.
“Looking ahead, we had a variety of pretty aggressive teams that we were going to be playing,” Bunt continued, “So we decided to have a meeting with our coaches parents and football players and talked about a number of options.”
That meeting, held Aug. 29, came up with several options in the course of discussion. One of the options was to simply forfeit the remaining games and not play varsity football the remainder of the season. Another option was to play Junior Varsity football, with one or two of the upperclassmen playing in various games for the rest of the season.
“What we basically ended up deciding was, for now, we will go ahead and play Spalding, a team we feel we can be pretty competitive with,” Bunt said, referring to the Raiders’ scheduled contest with Granville Spalding on Friday, Sept. 2. “Then, we didn’t have a game scheduled on the ninth, so on September 16, we would consider that our Homecoming, and our Parent Night and Senior Night, and at that time, we will re-assess whether we’re going to continue to play more games or whether that will be the end of our season.”
With the decision to move the Homecoming game up one week and having neighboring Graettinger/Terril as the opponent, having an off-week this week may help heal some of the smaller bumps and bruises for the Raiders, but the worry still remains for the coaching staff, administration, players, parents and community as a whole.
“Our two players who were injured have fairly significant injuries and will not be back for the season,” Bunt said, “So we know we will not have more players. A concern of course is that an additional player or two would get injured, and in that situation we would definitely have to re-assess whether we’d be able to continue to play. We want our seniors playing, we want our other kids playing, we know it’s very disappointing for them and the whole situation of course is tough, but we want to do what’s best for the kids.”
Bunt continued, “We’re just concerned about injury as well as risking students’ safety to not be able to be competitive against these upcoming teams.”
Ruthven-Ayrshire Principal and Athletic Director Jon Josephson says at this point, no decision has been reached as to the future of the program. “We just intend to re-evaluate where we’re at after that Graettinger/Terril game. If we’re still strong and healthy at that point, then we can move forward. We’re just going to re-evaluate, visit again with our players, and just determining what the best course is from there.”
Even though numbers are low this season, there is still optimism for the future of Raider Football.
“Any time you’re a small school, you’re concerned about numbers,” Josephson said. “On a very positive note, we have 17 boys out in grades seven and eight and last year we had 15 out, so we do have a contingent of players coming up in the system. We’re just at a drought at the high school level right now.”