Lacking players, Carlton High School cancels football seasonA lack of players has forced Carlton to cancel the rest of its high school football season.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
A lack of players has forced Carlton to cancel the rest of its high school football season.
“Our numbers were low when we started, and we had a couple kids who saw the writing on the wall and chose to have jobs instead,” Carlton athletic director Tracy Bockbrader said. “We really didn’t have any other option.”
The Bulldogs forfeited to Hinckley-Finlayson last week and again for tonight’s game against Ely, but by canceling the remainder of the schedule it allows opponents an opportunity to find other schools to play.
Coach Dennis Korman said it was difficult to find enough students who wanted to participate for the Class A school.
“Last year we barely had enough players to field a team, and this year the most players I ever had in pads was 16,” Korman said. “For a while, I was getting 10, 11 or 12 for practices and then for the last practices I only had six or seven guys.”
Approximately half of the original players were freshmen, Korman said, which raised safety concerns.
“One of the issues was ‘Do you play freshmen regularly against kids four years older?’ ” Korman said. “Last year we played freshmen a lot. I know four or five or maybe six freshmen who showed promise but aren’t out this year because they didn’t like the pounding they took.”
Current Carlton players are unable to play at another school without a formal cooperative agreement in place, Bockbrader said. Forming a cooperative also could place the partnering school in a higher class, something Bockbrader preferred not to do.
Korman and Bockbrader are hopeful the sport can return. Numbers at the sixth- through eighth-grade levels are in the low 20s.
“We’re looking at restructuring and building from that level up,” Bockbrader said. “Hopefully in a couple years we’ll be back in it.”