About two decades ago or so, Mary Brewer and I worked together on a lengthy feature for this newspaper on the possible demise of Seahawk football. Boys soccer was introduced as a new sport and there was grumbling among several people in the community that football was both too expensive and too dangerous. The school budgets were rising and some people were looking for places to cut expenses. I think the feature helped stem the "soccer" and "lack of funding" tide and football prevailed. And as the new millennium arrived, the Seahawk football program grew immensely and two state championship trophies were added to the school's trophy case.
But currently, the issue isn't money or soccer – it's the lack of players. Having five freshmen on a squad of 19 players has some people worried that the program has reached bottom once again. In the recent past, BRHS had to drop out of competition and become a club team, before regaining some status by joining the Class E division – a division for new teams and teams looking to regain their program. BRHS had a great season last fall, going undefeated at 10-0 and winning the Class E championship. However, the Maine Principals' Association didn't recognize the championship. Still competing in Class E, BRHS is swimming against the tide of dwindling enrollment.
BRHS is not alone. Checking the football scores from this past weekend, I noticed two teams have student-athletes from three schools (at least in theory). There are also several teams with players from two schools (Madison-Carrabec, Oxford Hills-Buckfield, Lisbon-St. Dominic, Stearns-Schenck, to name four). BRHS has tried to draw players from Wiscasset but for whatever reason, the idea hasn't worked.
And Maine high school football, as a whole, is becoming a "have or have not" sport. These were some of the lopsided scores from last week: 70-0 (why?), 65-6 (again, why?), 56-0, 54-0, 56-18, 47-7 (two of those), 47-8, 46-7, 46-8, 49-13 and 38-0. How can a coach/school keep the sport going if your players continue to get steamrolled week after week?
I feel it is time that the MPA takes a good hard look at the sport, perhaps start a league of 8-man football, where the play is wide open and the rosters don't have to be large to participate.
More on that idea later.