High school cancels varsity football team

Marion High School will not have a varsity football team due to a lack of senior players.

Many high school athletes wait for their varsity football season.

Football players at Marion High School, however, won't be playing.

"It stinks," Avery Kietzman, senior football player at Marion, said. "But at least we had the chance to play the two games that we did. It's going to be short lived but going to leave it all out there."

These players will leave it all out there because the rest of their season has been cancelled.

"We simply don't have enough students," Mort Meier, Marion Public Schools superintendent, explains. "We graduated nine seniors last year. All of them, I think, were starters."

"I had tears in my eyes, Mort had tears in his eyes," John Russell, Marion principal and athletic director, said. "It was not a fun decision but sometimes we have to make that decision for the better of our program and the better of our students."

The main reason for this decision came down to the students' safety.

"Our 14-year-olds quite aren't there yet. They're just not physically mature enough compared to the seniors," Russell said.

The other reason is a desire to build the program for the future.

"This year's junior varsity is next year's varsity," Meier said. "That's what we're hoping. Our boys need a little bit more time and a little more practice before they're ready to make the varsity team."

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) does allow seniors to play on a JV team. Russell decided to meet with the other athletic directors in the Highland Conference to get their take on this.

"Our conference decided seniors should not play against freshmen," Russell said. "I respect that because it is a safety issue. These kids are hitting each other."

Even though they won't be on the field, the seniors still plan on being part of the team.

"I'm looking forward to see what they can do," Kietzman said. "I'm not going to be a part of the team but I will be there to support them. I will do as much as I can. I will be at practices, help them out, and see what they can do."

Keitzman is planning on joining the Marine Corps upon graduation.

The last game for the three seniors is this Friday. Marion will host Traverse City Christian.