A lack of interested football players across classes has led to the elimination of the varsity football program Maryland’s Centennial High, a one-time state semifinalist that has fallen on hard times in the sport. According to the Baltimore Sun, Centennial became the first in Maryland’s Howard County — which sits between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. — to drop the sport at the varsity level.
“They didn’t want to come out and get killed every Friday night,” Centennial senior football player Todd Hendrix told the Sun. “We haven’t been good since 2013. It’s the whole demeanor of the school. … But there are kids on the team who take it seriously and are going to play at the next level, like Corey Eudell, like Vernon Batson.”
According to Hendrix, Centennial started the 2016 season with 22 players but finished with just 19. This year the team’s preseason training peaked at 18 athletes, though just 13 practiced in pads at any time due to injuries.
Players who had shown up to compete for the varsity team will reportedly be allowed to participate as members of the Centennial junior varsity squad, which will complete a full eight-game slate as scheduled. That could set the program up for a return to the varsity level in 2018, though that will likely depend on another successful recruiting drive to deliver new student athletes to the team or program.
The elimination of Centennial’s entire season also gives each team on its schedule a scheduling nightmare; a need to add a new opponent in a particular week with just weeks of preparation before the season kicks off.
As much as that might be a source of headaches for opposing coaches and athletic directors, most are even more concerned about Centennial’s fortunes and future.
“Obviously it’s a tough situation. It’s tough for their kids and for the community,” Howard athletics and activities manager Michael Duffy told the Sun. “You don’t want to see any programs fold or fail to have a team for a season,” he said. “That has a negative impact on high school sports and on a lot of the high school community events. For Centennial, it’s a huge hit and you feel bad for their community and their kids.”