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Superintendent: Perquimans will finish football season

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Matthew Cheeseman

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Friday, October 5, 2018

HERTFORD — Perquimans County High School plans to continue its varsity football season as scheduled.

Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman made the announcement on Friday, a day after school officials acknowledged that forfeiting the remainder of the varsity football season was an option because the high school team has fewer players than normal.

After meeting with coaches and other school officials on Friday, Cheeseman said he’s convinced that the season should go on and the program can be maintained while protecting student safety.

“We’re going to field a varsity team and continue on with our season,” Cheeseman said. “In our mind there isn’t really a question of player safety and we can sustain our program and complete our season.”

He said the shortage of varsity level players was an “unintended consequence” of creating a junior varsity team this year.

”If we did not offer a jayvee program, it’s unlikely we would have this situation,” Cheeseman said. “The population of football playing students hasn’t changed in Perquimans County. Normally we’d get 40 to 50 kids to come out.”

But creating the jayvee program for 9th- and 10th-graders meant there were fewer players on the varsity team.

Cheeseman said the Pirates were prepared to travel to Washington County Friday night with 26 players. Of that number, 13 will be freshmen “but skilled at football,” he said. Jayvee players who don’t want to play varsity won’t have to, he added.

Cheeseman said he hopes to continue the high school’s jayvee season, but players can’t play on both jayvee and varsity football in the same week.

Cheeseman said some upperclassmen who were injured are expected to come back for the school’s game next week.

In the long term, Cheeseman said he hopes to sustain a feeder program that starts at the recreation department and continues on through middle school, and then jayvee and varsity programs at the high school.

Forfeiting games because of a shortage of players is not unheard of in North Carolina, said James Alverson, assistant commissioner for media relations, special events and publications for the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

Last year Central Academy of Technology in Monroe forfeited the final game of the year, citing a limited numbers of players.

“The nature of football is that because there are collisions players can get hurt,” Alverson said. “Couple that with low turnout and it (ending a season) can happen.”

He said it’s not just small schools that have problems fielding a full team.

Central Academy has struggled for years because of low participation, Alverson said.

“Carrboro had the same issue two years,” he said. “Carrboro was only five or six years removed from winning a state championship.”

Alverson, who’s been involved with athletics for 10 years and has worked at the NCHSAA for three, said forfeiting games because of a lack of players happens.

“It’s not uncommon,” he said.

In Orange County, both Cedar Ridge and Chapel Hill high schools did not field a varsity teams this year, but did field a junior varsity team. Chapel Hill is 3-A school with 1,600 students, but failed to get enough players sign up. Cedar Ridge had five seniors, nine juniors, 15 sophomores and 22 freshmen that said they would play. But it was the lack of upperclassmen that concerned the school and forced the decision not to field a varsity team.

“In many areas, it’s not surprising to see rosters with 25 players and below,” Alverson said. “In Orange County there isn’t a strong (football) tradition. It doesn’t have a pop Warner league. And at the high school level students have lots of options, like club lacrosse, and club soccer and travel teams.”

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