WINFIELD ? Three Henry County teams will now be playing Class 8-Man football next season as the Winfield-Mt. Union School Board unanimously approved the move Wednesday night during a special session.
Earlier this month, the board heard from the public regarding the matter and was set to decide the issue during the 6 p.m. meeting in the media center. However, the votes would not be cast before several more community members said their final piece on the matter.
Freshman Seth Schurr, who previously addressed the board members on behalf of the football team, reiterated his comments from last month. ?We would like to go 8-man,? he said. ?That would make our practices more beneficial, being able to scrimmage against each other rather than going against trash cans and it would give us a JV, which would help our younger kids be better and more ready for varsity.?
Mark Wilkerson asked that the board think about long-term solutions rather than just a short-term fix like going to 8-man. ?I?m not sure if even going from 11-man to 8-man will fix the problem we?ll have the next two years of having enough kids to support a varsity and a JV (team),? he said. ?I don?t want to make a drastic decision to solve a short-term problem.?
Wilkerson went on to say that if the district could just ?push through the next couple of years? he felt the future of the Wolf football program would be bright. ?We?re a couple years off from a pretty good season,? he added.
Chris Oepping, however, was concerned about the current high school squad. ?My biggest concern is obviously the safety of the kids, and I think that?s why we?re all here,? he said.
Oepping said as the majority of the team and the coaching staff have all stated they would prefer to move to Class 8-Man, he felt the board members should comply. And as for waiting a couple of years for a bigger class size to enter high school, Oepping said, ?unless their 14-year-old son is being pushed down by an 18-year-old man, I don?t value their opinion.?
Superintendent Jeff Maeder acknowledged the move to 8-man football would be difficult as it bucks tradition, but as an administrator he has to consider enrollment, participation level, age and physical development of the players.
That?s why he recommended a move to 8-man football to the board.