CASSVILLE — Friday nights in Cassville will be a little different this fall.
The lights at the high school football field won’t be illuminating the east end of Amelia Street. The sounds of referee’s whistles and calls from the announcer won’t be heard through the thick autumn air. And, the smell of popcorn won’t be lofting through the crowd of spectators there to support the local football team.
In a cautionary move by first-year head coach, Chad Infield, who also serves as Dean of Students at Cassville High School, it was made official this past Saturday that Cassville would not be fielding a varsity football team for the 2016 season.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but it came down to player safety,” said Infield. “I didn’t feel that we could put the kids out there and they would be safe for an entire varsity game, because we only have a limited amount of players.”
When football practice began on Tuesday, Aug. 2, coach Infield was a little taken aback by the low turnout. He had just 15 players, which included no seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores and two freshmen.
Of those 15 players, two have since suffered injuries that would have held them out of action for an unknown amount of time, leaving Infield with three juniors, eight sophomores and two freshmen.
“We basically have a J.V. team anyway, but we were anticipating more kids coming out. We ended up about eight less than we thought we were going to have,” said Infield. “If we would have had enough players we would have played, but when you can’t even give the kids breaks and things like that. You can’t even really prepare for a game, that’s the hardest part."
With their season opener scheduled for this Saturday at UW–Platteville, the Comets were preparing for their opponent last week with only 10 players in pads.
The Comets were also scheduled to participate in a scrimmage at Viroqua last Friday evening, which Infield cancelled in advance, knowing he couldn’t afford to get anyone hurt prior to the start of the season.
Infield is now in the process of putting together a J.V. schedule for this year’s team, and is also hoping to recruit more freshmen now that the decision has been made to play a J.V. schedule.
As for the future of Cassville football, Infield said the school district will be addressing the issue at its upcoming school board meetings, and what route the district will be taking, based on the numbers of upcoming grades and their level of interest. But for this year’s group of kids, Infield has one main goal in mind.
“We’re just going to try and keep the interest level up for the kids that are out, and do our best,” Infield said.
With Cassville not fielding a varsity football team this season, Shullsburg will now play Hillsboro this Saturday at the Six Rivers Jamboree held at UW–Platteville.