North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora earned national headlines when he said football was, “under attack” and essentially characterized the declines in American football as part of a broader culture war.
Now the lauded UNC head man is struggling to understand why two schools in North Carolina’s backyard are canceling their varsity high school football programs for the 2018 season.
“I don’t know what the culture of those schools is so it would be hard to say. I hate it if that’s what’s happening,” Fedora told North Carolina ABC affiliate WTVD. “Those young men are missing out on a tremendous opportunity. It’s likely that those young men are just taking a different path either playing specialized sports year-round or just not interested.”
The schools in question are Cedar Ridge, and, perhaps more notable for Chapel Hill-based UNC, Chapel Hill High itself. A year earlier, East Chapel Hill faced a similar fate due to a lack of student interest.
According to WTVD, only 35 student athletes among a pool of about 500 at Chapel Hill chose to come out for the football team. That was deemed to anemic a turnout to justify fielding a team, particularly when some of the 35 were freshmen without any experience in the school or, in some cases, playing the sport competitively.
Chapel Hill officials told WTVD that the school plans to field a team next year, and the experience of East Chapel Hill could provide some cold comfort for Chapel Hill students and fans; the school missed out on the 2017 season but will now return to action in the 2018 campaign.
As for Chapel Hill, the people who are facing the most significant impact from the Tigers’ departure told the News & Observer they understand Chapel Hill’s decision.
“It’s all about player safety, we don’t want to put kids in a bad situation,” Hillside football coach Ray Harrison told the News & Observer. “Low numbers, you’re playing kids both sides of the ball and that’s not feasible in football.”