The beginning of the school year normally brings about fall sports, pep rallies, lunch jams and early morning drum circles, but the 2021-2022 school year is off to a slightly different start. The football team has consistently been a prominent part of school spirit, so the discontinuation of the junior varsity football team has had significant effects on the players and season.
Although some were disappointed by the lack of a JV football team, the athletic directors and football coaches had to make decisions regarding the projected outcome of this season and how it could potentially impact the players. Because the school does not cut athletes that try out, those who would have been placed on the JV football team prior to this season were placed on the varsity team.
“There were not enough players for JV and varsity,” athletic director Jerri Kelly said. “Sixty is the roster limit for postseason, but up until postseason you can carry more players, so we took all that wanted to play.”
Even though the player shortage was anticipated going into the 2021 football season, the school chose to eliminate the JV team, rather than creating a JV-Freshman hybrid team.
“Two schools in Seminole County have not had JV teams for the past few years,” Kelly said. “If we combined JV and Freshman, they would have to play a JV schedule and they would not get the full season with the other missing schools. After Oviedo and Lake Howell cancelled their JV team, it left our JV with only four games.”
Although sophomore Tavin Hebert has played on the varsity football team since his freshman year, his beliefs on adding JV players to the varsity roster are mixed, as some of his teammates may not get an opportunity to show their skills due to the vast number of athletes on varsity.
“I think it depends,” Hebert said. “I like having the big team on varsity, but sometimes it seems like we should have a JV [team]. A lot of my friends are on varsity that wouldn’t have been before, but at the same time they’re not getting any playing time, so they’re not getting better as players. If we still had JV, they would be getting better.”
Also, the additional number of athletes on varsity causes an increase in the amount of competition over positions and playing time on the team.
“It’s definitely a lot harder because everyone is good,” Hebert said. “In freshman football a lot of kids are new and figuring out the game, but now, after a year, a lot of those kids put in hard work and are good football players. Everything is harder to earn, especially having to beat out upperclassmen.”
Even though the JV team does not currently have a fall season, administrators and students are optimistic for the future.
“We want all three teams every year,” Kelly said. “Our Pop Warner program is now larger than ever. The future looks awesome.”