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Rockwood HS Cancels Football Season

By Matt Maisel

Rockwood High School has cancelled its 2013 varsity football season, putting the program's future and opponent's season potentially in doubt along with it.

Rockwood Superintendent Mark Bower told 6 Sports Tuesday morning the decision was made in the wake of Fridays scrimmage at Tussey Mountain. Rockwood entered the game with only 12 players, and one Rockets player during the game suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. The decision was made to forfeit their season before it began.

The safety of our kids was our first concern, said Bower, referring to fielding a team with only 11 players. Only two remaining players had any varsity experience and we werent comfortable with 9th and 10th graders playing with no varsity experience.

Bower said Rockwood and new head coach Joseph Brown went into camp with over 20 players. By the second week, that number dipped down to the upper teens. Calls to Brown were not immediately returned.

Rockwood had already cancelled its junior varsity program for the 2013 season but Bower hopes to revive it with the underclassmen unable to play varsity this fall.

Remaining Rockets players are unable to join other area programs for the season. PIAA rules mandate all co-ops must be approved by April 1. Bower said emergency co-ops have been granted but not this late in the game.

 We could have waited [until later in the week], Bower said, But we wouldnt have been able to give other teams a chance to reschedule games.

Rockwoods Week One opponent, United, was able to quickly replace their lost game by adding District 7 Bishop Canevin to the schedule for Saturday. As of Tuesday evening, none of Rockwoods other nine WestPAC opponents have been able to fill the spot which currently sits idle on their schedule.

Its upsetting, said Portage High School head football coach Gary Gouse. You do this now? Why couldnt this have been done over the summer?

Gouse also expressed anger over how this could potentially affect the Mustangs playoff chances. Because of the District 6 playoff point system, Portages total could be significantly less based off a 9-game schedule as opposed to other District 6-A teams playing a complete 10-game season.

Rockwoods dilemma is one numerous high schools in the region battle with each year. Johnsonburg High School in District 9 eliminated their football program for the 2013 season and decided to co-op with Ridgway.

Ferndale High School is currently struggling to field a team with less than 20 players. Athletic Director Steve Clawson said however that he is optimistic the Yellow Jackets will have football this fall.

As for Rockwood, not only is their varsity football future non-existent for 2013, but potentially beyond this fall as well. Bower said he would be open to co-op with other nearby school districts to ensure his students could play football, also because the future of Rockets football could be in doubt.

The future of our program, he said, may not be feasible for the WestPAC to give us a schedule for the next few years.

Image courtesy Rockwood High School

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times