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Ishpeming School Board votes to have varsity football season, despite low numbers

Ishpeming School Board votes to have a varsity football team this year.
Ishpeming School Board votes to have a varsity football team this year.(Tyler Markle)
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 8:56 PM EDT
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ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Ishpeming School Board met Monday evening with the fate of this year’s varsity football season on the agenda.

After more than an hour of public comment, the board made the decision to go forward with the season as normal. The issue had been a lack of participation. With just nine juniors and one senior interested, the team would need to call up a significant number of underclassmen.

After a letter was read to the board saying at least nine sophomores and their parents consented to moving up to varsity, the decision was made to play the season.

“Whether or not they’re ready to play or not, I guess we’ll find that out,” said athletic director Terry Roberts. “It’s tough to go without a varsity team in Ishpeming after all the success we’ve had, and there weren’t any other options out there.”

The idea of playing 8-man football was brought up at the meeting but quickly shut down.

"I think enrollment will dictate that eventually for us, but as far as this year, the state said we could play 8-man, but there was already a conference schedule out there and it was a full schedule," said Roberts.

The team still faces running into the same problem as Manistique two years ago, or Gwinn in 2012, where few players, and an influx of injuries led to their seasons being shut down prematurely.

“I think we’re going to have to face that when we face it,” said Roberts. “We’re not really in favor of bringing up too many younger players because not only is age an issue, but their size and physical abilities. So it’s not our goal to just keep adding more players. We’d like to have a JV team that continues to grow and learn and accomplish some things.”

Of course COVID-19 related concerns also threaten the season.

The MHSAA is scheduled to make a decision on fall sports on August 20 that could mean no football for any Michigan high school this year.

“It’s a tough year for everybody, and it’s been hard,” said Roberts. “It’s the unknown that is really the hardest thing to deal with, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”

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