Bulldogs cancel final two games of season
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org