|Antwerp football to go on hiatus - UPDATED|
|Wednesday, June 04, 2014 10:08 AM|
By JOE SHOUSE • Progress Staff Writer
ANTWERP – It’s not what any athletic director wants to do but when the numbers don’t lie then sometimes you have to make a tough decision. And that is exactly what Antwerp’s athletic director (AD), Drew Altimus, had to do in announcing there would be no varsity football at Antwerp High School in 2015.
Altimus, who serves the school as AD and varsity football coach, saw the writing on the wall for some time. The male student enrollment has been slipping in recent years’ plus the pool of football players is not what it has been in the past.
Altimus has gone through the roller coaster of emotions in recent days. “It’s disappointing that it has come to this. It’s like taking a step backwards in order to take two steps forward. I know this is the right thing to do and I am the last person who wants to do it,” he said.
Coach Altimus and the Archers will field a team for the upcoming 2014 season before taking a one-year hiatus in 2015 at the varsity level.
“We will have a junior varsity team in 2015 and then we plan to be back in 2016 at the varsity level,” said Altimus.
Right now, it looks as though the coach will have in the low 20s on his roster this upcoming season.
The numbers are low and Altimus is concerned about having a team that is predominantly freshmen and sophomores competing on Friday nights against stronger competition.
“The bottom line is the safety of the kids. We can’t expect these young kids with little experience to go out week after week and compete. What will happen is that they will get discouraged and not want to play the following year, if at all,” said Altimus.
When canceling an entire season, it effects not only the Archers, but also their opponents and mainly the Green Meadows Conference. The league teams will now be scrambling for a new opponent to schedule for the 2015 season.
Although the GMC coaches and athletic directors have all agreed to support the Archers and their situation, it could not become officially approved until the GMC executive council, made up of the schools principals, voted. A meeting was held on Wednesday, June 4 with the the council voting 8-0 allowing Antwerp to run a junior varsity football team only in 2015.
The GMC has a clause in its constitution where if a school is unable to field a team, they may be asked to leave the conference.
“That option was mentioned, but it was never seriously considered. Our main concerned is for the kids and their overall safety,” said GMC commissioner Tom Dominique.
Earlier in the week, Altimus had concerns about the possibility of being asked to leave the GMC but was confident that a plan could be worked out.
“We could have been asked to vacate the league and that would have been a nightmare,” said Altimus. “If push came to shove, we would have played, but the conference understands our dilemma. And because we gave them 15 months’ notice, I think they were willing to move forward and allow us 2015 to regroup,” commented the Antwerp AD.
Hopefully, with the football program making some difficult changes, the Archers will grow and develop into a strong program in the future. Altimus believes the future is bright, but it will take some time.
“We will be fine. In the lower grades there are 40 kids playing football. The talent is coming and when we come back we will be ready to compete,” concluded Altimus.
The 2014 Archer schedule: Aug. 28 Edon; Sept. 5 Hilltop; Sept. 12 at Paulding; Sept. 19 at Ayersville; Sept. 26 Holgate; Oct. 3 at Edgerton; Oct. 10 Hicksville; Oct. 17 at Tinora; Oct. 24 Fairview; Oct. 31 at Wayne Trace.