Football

East Chapel Hill drops varsity football for 2017 season

Posted March 30

— The lights will not be bright on Friday nights this fall for East Chapel Hill High School.

After struggling for years to put enough players on the field to support a team, East Chapel Hill has decided not to field a varsity football team for the 2017 season.

For the last four years, East Chapel Hill has not fielded a junior varsity football team, instead moving players straight into varsity. This season, the school will reverse that decision. The Wildcats will only play a junior varsity schedule.

"Our strategic plan is to play a junior varsity schedule for the 2017 season and return to a junior varsity and varsity schedule for the 2018 season," East Chapel Hill coach Ryan Johnson told WRAL. "The rationale for this decision is to build program numbers safely while allowing our student-athletes the opportunity to grow, playing against other student-athletes on their level."

According to Johnson, not fielding a junior varsity team the last several seasons has impacted the number of players who come out to play football.

"This also caused a lot of inexperienced student-athletes playing against older and more mature student-athletes, which in return doesn't create a safe situation," Johnson said. "Overall our decision was based on the best interest of our student-athletes."

East Chapel Hill, a member of the PAC 6 4-A Conference, has struggled on the football field for years. Last season, East Chapel Hill was 1-10 overall. The only win came against Carrboro, a 2-A school who finished with a 2-9 record.

The Wildcats were also 1-10 in 2015 after an 0-11 mark in 2014. Since 2004, East Chapel Hill has averaged 1.6 wins per season. The best season in that stretch came in 2012 when East Chapel Hill posted a 5-6 record.

"We are committed to building a program here and not giving up on football," Johnson added.

East Chapel Hill will drop down to the 3-A classification in all sports during the 2017-2018 school year.

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