The Warriors gave it a go, but alas, their numbers were too few.
Westminster Catawba Christian School’s board cancelled the football team’s season Tuesday night after considering the matter throughout the preseason. First-year coach John Barrett had gathered 19 players, but serious injuries to several of them during scrimmages over the past two weeks prompted the school board to reconsider. Friday’s game against SouthLake Christian Academy had already been forfeited.
“It really came down to numbers and player safety,” said Billy Fisher, the school’s athletic director and dean of students. “It’s a tough decision but one that was made to keep in mind players’ safety.”
With enrollment down, Fisher and school administrators considered alternatives, including eight-man football, as early as December. But eight-man football in the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) is almost exclusively limited to schools east of Raleigh, meaning four and five-hour bus rides on Fridays. Joining South Carolina Independent Schools Association (SCISA) eight-man football was impossible because Westminster Catawba had too many male students. Developing football in lower grades to build the program had also been discussed.
“We’re kind of caught in the middle,” Fisher said.
Fisher said the decision was met with some tears from disappointed players, and he hopes the school is able to retain Barrett. It’s the first cancellation of a season in Fisher’s seven years at the school. 2006, Fisher’s first year at Westminster Catawba, saw the school re-establish a team after four years without one, so it’s been an ongoing issue for the smaller-sized private school on India Hook Road.
As difficult as it proved to field a squad, there is no doubt that the school wants a football program.
“It’s something that’s important to us, obviously the Rock Hill community, and to our school community,” said Fisher. “It’s something we want to see become viable and sustainable.”
Bret McCormick • 329-4032 Twitter: @BretJust1T