Football Future On Shaky Ground For Maplewood-Richmond Heights

The rise of soccer is one reason being cited by the administration at the Maplewood-Richmond Heights School district, as leaders there try to determine if it will field a high school football team this fall.

The district released a statement Friday saying no final decision had been made on competing yet after a report circulated that it had indicated to other schools that it would  ditch the program.

The MRH Board of Education and administration have not cut the football program for the 2015-16 school year.  There are many ongoing conversations, prompted by the High School administrative team and athletic director, about the continued low number of students going out for the team.  At this time, only eight players have expressed interest in playing next year. There have been, and continue to be, ongoing recruitment efforts to enlist players for the team. Missouri recommends a minimum of 23 players on the roster.

The concern of the administration and Board of Education continues to be player safety.  The 2014-15 football team, which also experienced low numbers, endured multiple injuries throughout the season resulting in one forfeiture against St. Francis Borgia on September 5 due to a lack of healthy players.

The District has always been, and will remain, fully committed to its entire athletics program and players, and will continue to closely monitor the football team to ensure the safety of its players and viability of the overall program.

A district spokesman said the rise in the popularity of soccer could be one reason behind the drop in turnout.  The administration told 40 South News last fall that the incoming Freshman class this year was one of the smallest on record.

While the district says there’s no timetable for reaching a decision on the future of football, MSHSAA confirms a June 10 deadline if the school wants to register to be eligible for postseason play. The team could also play a regular season without postseason play if it has enough players. Another option could be to consider a co-op partnership like the one put together by Valley Park and Kennedy High School this past season, where the schools joined forces and played under the Kennedy banner.

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