Lack of numbers has resulted in the sacking of Lake Shore’s junior varsity football program for one season.
Eagles Athletic Director Daryl Besant informed The Buffalo News of the decision Wednesday afternoon, as the need for bodies at the varsity level has resulted in not enough remaining to field a junior varsity team. State game-day eligibility rules require a team to dress at minimum 16 players.
The varsity team only had 19 athletes show up for the first day of practice on Aug. 15 and injuries have resulted in the need to bring up junior varsity players. By cancelling JV for this season, the varsity team will now have a roster of 31.
“We weren’t going to have enough for the first game of varsity, so ultimately we had to pull up four or five JV kids to have a roster for varsity,” Besant said. “Because numbers were so low, for JV that took us down to 14-15.”
Instead of holding opponents hostage as to whether Lake Shore would have enough bodies week to week for JV games based on which players needed to suit up and perhaps play on varsity, school officials decided it’d be best for everyone to just keep the sophomores up on varsity, inform Section VI of the district’s decision to not field a JV team and go from there.
Section VI Football Chairman Ken Stoldt said the Federation has a fill-in Week One opponent for Iroquois, the team slated to face Lake Shore. Iroquois will be matched up with Hutch-Tech, since the Engineers’ Week One foe, St. Mary’s, doesn’t have a JV team.
After that, the Federation may have to get creative.
“We’re going to go week to week the rest of the season,” Stoldt said. “Maybe we get creative and see if any other teams have openings (Catholic or Section V) or maybe we get creative with the four-nights rest (rule). We’ll do everything we can to get a full JV schedule.”
The four-night rule could see some teams slated to play Thursday being allowed to come back Monday to play. For varsity, that is coming into play during Weeks One and Two due to the section being the last in the state to complete its master schedule and there being an odd number of public-school teams. Eden/North Collins opens on Sept. 2 and then returns to action Sept. 6 at Chautauqua Lake. That game serves as C-Lake’s opener as the Thunderbirds play their second game of the season Sept. 10.
There are other trickle-down effects from Lake Shore’s decision, including junior varsity cheerleaders joining varsity on game days to be part of routines, Besant said. Then there are the junior varsity players who may not necessarily be ready for full-bore varsity competition.
“We have some ninth and 10th graders who will practice with varsity,” Besant said. “We won’t put them in situations where can get hurt in practice or a game. They will be with the team during practices and games, wearing uniforms during the pep rally and other stuff.”
The numbers are healthy for the Eagles’ modified team as the seventh- and eighth-grade squad has 35 players. Still, there is some concern as to how cancelling the junior varsity slate for just one season will affect the varsity team.
“Our biggest numbers are freshmen and seniors so I’m pretty sure next year’s JV should be plenty big enough and next year’s varsity may be in a similar boat but you never know,” Besant said.