DANBURY, N.C. -- Last year, the North Stokes varsity football team had a winning record of 6 and 5 during the regular season. This year, they didn’t win a game. On Tuesday, the school decided to pull the plug on the season.
They will be forfeiting their remaining games this year. The team was not “giving up,” they simply don’t have enough players.
“When it comes to football, the numbers has always been a challenge and an issue,” said North Stokes High School Principal Nathan Rasey.
The school currently has 393 students, which is on par with their average student body. As far as the varsity football team goes, they graduated 19 seniors last year. As a result, they had to put three freshman on the varsity team this year.
“Quite frankly, I’m not a big fan of using freshman on a varsity team,” Rasey said. “They need to be playing against guys their own size and their own age.”
The school even resorted to having a handful of players play both JV and varsity.
“The state rules say you’re only allowed 8 quarters of that. We exhausted all those quarters,” Rasey added.
When the first game of the season rolled around, the number of players on the varsity roster was already in the teens. At one point, due to injuries, they only had 12 able-bodied players. However, the school planned to continue the season with those 12 players.
Then, on Tuesday, another player was ruled out due to injury, dropping their roster to 11. That’s the number of players on each side of the ball for both offense and defense. The school system decided it wasn’t safe for the players to play both sides of the ball with no break, and with the threat of another player being injured and the team having to play a game a man down, they made the final call.
“We’ve decided to pull the plug for the rest of the season,” Rasey said. “That’s unfortunate, but that’s where we are.”
For the seniors who were not injured during the season, it means their high school football careers are over.
“It does affect the seniors,” Rasey said. “My heart goes out to them and I hate that.”
The JV season will go on this year.
"Those young men, they’ve already won,” Rasey said. “I expect them to win more games.”
The school fully expects to have a varsity team again next year.
“We’re already looking at the numbers, and yes, there’s no question about that whatsoever,” Rasey said.
This is not the first time North Stokes has had to suspend its varsity football team. Rasey said they had to take similar steps about 20 years ago.
The school held a meeting with parents and players Wednesday afternoon.