SEATTLE – The head of the governing body for Washington state high school sports weighed in Friday on the controversy surrounding the Archbishop Murphy football team.
Three teams – South Whidbey, Sultan, and Granite Falls — have forfeited their games against Archbishop Murphy. Members of the Cascade Conference say the Everett-based private school can recruit from a wider geographical area, giving it a distinct advantage. Some have said the team’s roster is much bigger and full of talent from across the region.
“It’s not that we’re afraid to play the game, it’s an injury issue,” said Granite Falls head coach Tim Dennis this week. “Because of the size disparity between the linemen. They have 300-pound linemen. And we have sophomores that are weight 210, 220 pounds and starting on varsity. So that’s the issue, is the size disparity.”
In the three games Archbishop Murphy has played this season, they’ve outscored their opponents 170-0.
The Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association (WIAA) released a statement Friday saying it is in contact with schools in the Cascade Conference about the issue.
The WIAA says schools have chosen to forfeit for several reasons including “low turnout of student-athletes, competitive equity and safety concerns.”
But Executive Director Mike Colbrese says it’s the players and schools who are losing out.
“Players on both sides are losing the opportunity to represent their schools and communities on the football field,” said Colbrese in a statement. “The WIAA understands how valuable these opportunities are for all students.”
The WIAA says its member schools can work together to form their own leagues, each of which develops its a schedule that all schools agree to.
Archbishop Murphy head coach Jerry Jensen appeared on ESPN’s Outside The Lines Friday to address the controversy. He was asked if his team is being penalized for its success.
“I think the boys are for sure. This is a team that went 3-6 three years ago. Went to work in the offseason and continued to improve. There are some big kids we have on our line. There’s also some small kids that work really hard and deserve a chance to play,” said Jensen.
WIAA says it will work with schools to examine the 2017 football schedule.