After losing its last three games by a combined 132-0, the Dickinson (Wilmington, Del.) High School football team is forfeiting its final six varsity games.
The decision was reached Monday, three days after the Rams lost 54-0 at Glasgow. Dickinson will continue to play a junior varsity schedule, but athletic director Andy Dick said only 17 players came to practice Monday.
“Our struggle was, we need to keep these kids healthy,” Dick said Wednesday. “The only way to do that was to get out of a varsity schedule.”
The Rams’ next game was scheduled to be Thursday against Howard at Baynard Stadium. Howard football coach and athletic director Dan Ritter said the school’s homecoming festivities will continue without a football game.
“When you have 20 kids, 24 kids and they’re young, I don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Ritter said. “I completely understand that… There’s a physical aspect to football that a lot of the other sports don’t have.”
The physical toll mounted quickly on the Dickinson players. Dick said the team went through preseason practice with 14 to 16 players, then picked up a few more as school started in September.
“I think we got up to about 26,” Dick said. “But of those 26, there were 11 or 12 that had never played organized football before.
“We scrimmaged Conrad and Mount Pleasant, and all we did was scrimmage on defense because we didn’t have an offensive line at that time. We didn’t even have five interior linemen.”
That left Dick and the Rams’ other assistant coaches to fill out the field during practice.
“When we would put our scout team out there against our defense, I was playing quarterback and three of our other coaches were in lineman positions,” Dick said. “And we’re coaching at the same time. We were just trying to put a person in front of the other person, to see how they make their alignments.”
Still, the Rams continued to practice, and managed to defeat Delcastle 14-6 in their season opener. But injuries started to mount in their second game, a 42-0 loss at Mount Pleasant.
“We spoke with the kids about it, and we said we’re going to try to go with what we have and see how long we can do it,” Dick said. “We had seven or eight guys going both ways.
“You lose one of those kids, and you’ve got to put somebody in there who has really never even played before. And they’re looking across at a guy in front of them that’s 240 or 250 pounds.”
Dick said two of the Rams’ starting linebackers weighed 140 pounds. The team was forced to move a tight end to tackle, and switched a 170-pound wide receiver to guard.
“Those kids aren’t used to playing that position,” he said. “You’ve got four or five days to learn the position, then you have to play a game.
“That inexperience was really going to hurt us. That ended up being the final straw. It came down to the safety of the kids.”
At Glasgow, the Dragons scored five touchdowns in the first six minutes. They led 48-0 after one quarter, and both coaches agreed to start the running clock.
“At the end of the first quarter, we pulled [our players] in and we talked to them,” Glasgow coach Michael Richardson said Wednesday. “We made sure they understood we’re not out here trying to be that team [that runs up the score]. We obviously have the advantage here, so let’s be classy with this thing and let’s just play the right way.”
Dick said the situation was exacerbated because Dickinson’s third game – a 36-0 loss to Christiana – was moved from a Friday to the following Monday, Sept. 25. Four days later, the Rams had to play Glasgow.
“We went into it saying we’re going to try to be as competitive as possible,” Dick said. “After 2½ minutes in the first quarter, it was 24-0. That demoralizes some kids. And then the kids we wanted to try to get some experience playing, you look around and they’re like, ‘No, I’m not going in against that guy who’s 260 or 270 pounds.’ … It intimidates kids that have never played before.”