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By Loren Kopff
In a stunning move that shocked many parents, players and others in the community, the Cerritos High varsity football team will be playing the remainder of the 2012 season under junior varsity status. The move came down this past Tuesday afternoon as the coaching staff as well as the top Cerritos High administrators cited safety concerns for the players.
A gathering of over 30 parents, players and community members were on hand this past Wednesday night in the classroom of Cerritos co-athletic director Robert Adams to ask questions and voice their displeasure on the sudden move. Also on hand was assistant principal Le Wentz.
“This was not a quick thinking decision at all,” Adams said. “We made it with respect to the entire program. We certainly understand the position of the seniors, completely, as well as the other players. Student safety is of paramount concern here along with program safety.”
Earlier on Wednesday, an administrative statement was released stating that the Cerritos High School football program “will be modifying our schedule by participating at the junior varsity levels of competition for the remainder of the season”.
Adams said that the players were notified by first-year head coach Darin Owens this past Tuesday afternoon around 2:00, first the 15 seniors, then the rest of the team. Owens was not present at the question and answer session as he was attending a Suburban League coaches meeting. Also missing was Cerritos principal Janice Peterson, who was scheduled to attend a meeting with the other league principals and athletic directors. On hand, though, were nine members of the varsity football team.
Most of the parents vented their frustrations towards the coaches and administration for the move, which Adams called “unprecedented”.
This year’s varsity team consisted of 49 players, which is a far cry from the
22 that were on last year’s opening day roster. But the team lost its first four games of this season and failed to score a point. Players were reportedly getting seriously injured, including some with broken collar bones and broken wrists, and that’s one of the main reasons why the administration decided to make this move. At least five players have been seriously injured this season. Adams said the injury situation this year with a bigger team in terms of numbers is worse than it was last season with a smaller team.
“The goal that we have is to try to keep Cerritos football in a state of development as we move forward,” Adams said. “By getting us an opportunity to practice a little better, change the competition to where Monday’s and Tuesday’s are a little more productive for the younger kids…we can allow them to protect themselves and develop a little bit.”
Some of the concerns that the parents had centered around what would happen to the players for the rest of the season, which is the entire six-game Suburban League slate. It’s still unknown how many players will continue to play out the remainder of the season. The varsity members will still earn a letter and a bar to place on his Letterman jacket.
Adams said that there will be a varsity team next season and that the school is looking into many avenues as far as the scheduling of non-league opponents.
“I want the kids to be able to come back,” Adams said. “I want Friday nights to be an event. With all my heart, I want to continue and improve school spirit here to where the kids are doing fun things on Friday nights, and I’m not just talking about football.”
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