Bull­dogs can­cel fi­nal two games of sea­son

Westside Eagle-Observer - - SPORTS -

DE­CATUR — It was not the sto­ry­book end­ing that coaches, play­ers and fans hoped for this sea­son, but school of­fi­cials can­celed the fi­nal two De­catur High School foot­ball games, against Danville and Lavaca.

Over the past few years, the De­catur foot­ball pro­gram has been plagued with low in­ter­est and dwin­dling num­bers. Added to the De­catur woes were the 10 in­juries suf­fered dur­ing the first five games of this sea­son.

Dur­ing pre­sea­son prac­tice, the Bull­dogs had nine play­ers. When the first day of school be­gan on Aug. 15, the num­ber of play­ers who came to prac­tice grew to 18, just enough for a team and some re­serve play­ers. When De­catur took to the field at Bull­dog Sta­dium for the open­ing of the 2017 foot­ball sea­son against the Ber­ryville Bob­cats, the team and coaches had no idea of the long road ahead that ended in Ha­vana with the West­ern Yell County Wolver­ines.

The Gen­try game was, by far, the most in­jury-prone con­test of the sea­son for De­catur. Five De­catur play­ers were taken out of the game with in­juries in the first half, forc­ing De­catur coaches Ryan Woolard, Shel­don McKinzie and Cody Reid to make the de­ci­sion to for­feit the sec­ond half of the game.

As the in­jury list grew, De­catur had enough play­ers to fill all the po­si­tions on the field but with only four play­ers in re­serve. As a re­sult, the Danville game sched­uled for last Fri­day was can­celed. And, with the health and safety of the play­ers in mind, De­catur School su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Gravette — af­ter meet­ing with the coaches and play­ers of the foot­ball team — de­cided to also can­cel the re­main­ing game against Lavaca on Nov. 3.

“Un­for­tu­nately we had to for­feit the last two games this foot­ball sea­son,” Gravette said. “As the sea­son pro­gressed, we ex­pe­ri­enced nu­mer­ous in­juries. We started the sea­son with the po­ten­tial to have around 20 play­ers, but that con­tin­ued to dwin­dle. I’m so proud of our stu­dent-ath­letes; they played their hearts out ev­ery game. We are ex­cited about next sea­son and the di­rec­tion of the pro­gram un­der Coaches Woolard, McKinzie and Reid. We have a large num­ber of tal­ented in­com­ing sopho­mores. We look for­ward to build­ing a win­ning tra­di­tion in the years to come.”

Photo by Mike Eck­els

De­catur’s Cay­den Bing­ham (2) tries to slip past a Rebel tack­ler dur­ing the Oct. 13 home­com­ing con­test be­tween the Bull­dogs and JC West­side in De­catur. By Mike Eck­els meck­els@nwadg.com

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