- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
It was a move Halifax County High School head varsity football coach Dave Wojtecki was hoping to avoid. Wojtecki said Monday night there will be no Comets ninth-grade football team this season and that the high school’s football program will move forward with a varsity team and a junior varsity team.
“We decided to go with just a junior varsity team and varsity team due to a lack of numbers among tenth-graders,” Wojtecki explained.
“People keep trying to say it’s the ninth-grade, but it’s the tenth-grade class that has not shown up, so to speak. We had several meetings during school in the spring. It’s been in the newspapers. It’s been announced all over that we were looking for young players.
“It’s a shame that we don’t have a better showing of the tenth-grade class because they were successful last year (as ninth-graders),” added Wojtecki.
“You would think they would be here trying to work.”
The Comets coach said he has 16 tenth-graders on the field.
“That was out of about 26 or 28 ninth-grade players from last year,” he pointed out.
“When we started the weight training program, we had more numbers with tenth-graders,
but they have decided not to continue. It’s not a lack of ninth-grade kids that has prompted this. It’s a lack of tenth-grade kids.”
The lack of a suitable number of tenth-grade students to play on the junior varsity team has led Wojtecki to pull a good handful of ninth-grade players up to the junior varsity team to fill the void.
“Most of the ninth-graders that we have would probably have played up on the jayvee team anyway,” Wojtecki pointed out.
The Comets coach said taking the ninth-grade players that would be on the junior varsity team and using them to play a ninth-grade schedule is not feasible.
“Most of their games (ninth-grade and junior varsity games) are scheduled at about the same times, so we really couldn’t do that,” Wojtecki said.
“The other thing is they (the ninth-grade team) plays against mostly junior varsity squads. They’re already playing against teams that are basically on that level, so it doesn’t really make too much sense to just take the ninth-graders out and play a ninth-grade schedule.”
Wojtecki said because there will be no ninth-grade team it is important that each player on the junior varsity team get some playing time.
“As a staff, we have talked about the fact that that all of them need to play,” said Wojtecki.
“We’re going to do a great job of getting each kid in games in live situations.”
A down side to not having a ninth-grade team is that some of the ninth-grade players may not get as many reps on the field as they may have gotten while playing on a ninth-grade team.
An up side, Wojtecki said, is that the younger players will actually receive better quality coaching.
“We have 10 paid coaches, and with three teams, we were splitting ourselves so thin that it makes it tough to get quality teaching at each position,” explained Wojtecki.
“What had been done in the past with the ninth-grade team was to have two paid coaches. The rest were volunteer coaches from the community. Sometimes there has been only one coach with the ninth-grade team. They were not getting the proper attention that they should have been getting.
“The young group is where the good coaching should be taking place,” added Wojtecki.
“The junior varsity players and varsity players are receiving instruction from both the junior varsity and varsity coaches. All of the coaches are working together to teach better techniques at all positions. I think the players are getting taught more fundamentally sound now than what they have been getting in the past.”