Junior varsity football team disbands in the midst of shrinking numbers

Adam Kreitzman

The junior varsity football team was disbanded this summer in favor of a freshmen-sophomore team due to a shortage of players in the program. The lack of participation presents a multi-faceted challenge for first-year head coach Allen Talley.

Talley, who was promoted from his role as the Giants’ defensive coordinator last spring, has brought high expectations to the program. Even so, many players who would have played JV dropped out of the football program, leaving a dearth of extra bodies. As a result, Redwood could only field two teams instead of three.

Junior Billy Lewis, a second year varsity player, expressed frustration at the lack of players, and cited a problem with dedication.

Junior Nick Desaurnauts does a ball security drill during practice.
Junior Nick Desaurnauts does a ball security drill during practice.

According to Lewis, last year’s frustrating season is the cause for people deciding to drop football.

“Last year, we had [Alex] Kosinski, [Ryan] Pozivinec, and [Jake] Curhan, and we were expecting big things to happen,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, we only went 4-6 and people gave up on the football program as a result.”

Lewis said that the team isn’t dwelling on the past and is instead looking forward to the upcoming year.

“This year we need a different mindset,” Lewis said. “We lost [63-0] against Marin Catholic last year, and it’s time for people to show it on the field.”

The sudden drop in participation has left Athletic Director Jessica Peisch searching for answers, as even she is unsure of the reason for the exodus of players.

“Right now, there are a few theories about why people aren’t continuing with the program,” Peisch said. “But those are just theories and we cannot be totally sure.”

Peisch said it is possible that head trauma and concussions, which have become more associated with football, have discouraged some people from playing.

“[Player health] is one of the theories,” Peisch said. “We have a student-athlete handbook that covers health, which is a good way for parents to learn about the risks involved with any sport.”

Talley wasn’t concerned, as he quickly deflected the idea that this is a long-term problem.

“We are going to be okay,” Talley said. “We just didn’t have enough players this year, so we had to combine teams, but it shouldn’t be something that lasts a long time.”

According to Talley, the main focus of the program is to make sure that the kids participating are getting the most coaching and instruction possible.

“As long as we can keep kids in the program and instruct them, then we will be happy with the program,” Talley said.

Talley predicted that the football program numbers will go back up by next year.

“We want to welcome everybody who wants to participate to the team,” Talley said. “We are constantly building the program around the younger kids.”

Lewis added that he wasn’t convinced safety precautions should deter players from suiting up for football.

“We got new helmets this year that are much safer,” Lewis said. “I think people are being too concerned.”

Lewis claimed that football has become a much safer sport recently, and shouldn’t have a negative connotation.

“I don’t think safety should be a problem with football, considering the safety standards are constantly getting better,” Lewis said.

Athletic Trainer Americ Alvarado dismissed the notion that concern regarding head trauma and concussions played a large role in the lack of numbers.

“I think it might account for 10 percent of it,” Alvarado said. “Here at Redwood, we are extremely well-educated in how to deal with and prevent concussions. We always want to let parents know that there are steps in place to recover if it does happen.”

Alvarado added that concussions are a much smaller problem in high school compared to the professional level, which has come under fire in recent years for the effects of head trauma.

“It’s tough to see your idols on TV quit because of injuries,” Alvarado said. “At the end of the day, the players in [the NFL] are paid to take the damage that occurs to their body over time.”

Alvarado also said that past injuries shouldn’t deter a player from participating in a physical sport such as football.

“A player could come back from an injury and have the best season of their career,” Alvarado said. “There is a risk of getting injured in every single sport, and that shouldn’t stop kids from participating in them.”