It's bizarre for a football program to be unable to field a full team at the start of a season, when academic eligibility issues and injuries have yet to set in, yet that's precisely the predicament befalling a Washington school heading into its season-opening game on Saturday.
According to the Seattle Times, Seattle (Wash.) Evergreen High is being forced to forfeit its scheduled season opener against Seattle (Wash.) Ingraham High because Evergreen does not have enough players to compete as a fully-fledged varsity team. The issue isn't that the school doesn't have enough players who want to play, it's simply that only "13 or 14" will have completed enough required practices to be eligible under Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association guidelines.
While one might interpret that lack of preseason commitment as a sign that the Evergreen program should consider folding, the school's head football coach, Mark Becker, insisted that was hardly the case. Rather, he told the Times' Mason Kelley that he expected the team's roster to eventually fill to its 40-man capacity.
It's encouraging to hear that the school isn't in jeopardy of losing out on a high school tradition and what is traditionally the most popular sport on most academic calendars (both in terms of participation and fan interest). Still, it begs the question: Why couldn't Evergreen get enough players through enough summer practices to kick off on time?
That may be impossible to answer until the school's eventual 40 man roster materializes. Still, it seems likely that the delay has a lot to do with the following factors:
• An abbreviated summer training camp, at least when compared to those held by other area schools
• A smaller group of returning junior and senior players
• A large crop of incoming freshman who want to play the sport
If you combine statistical aberrations from all three of those considerations, it's possible that Evergreen could rise right up to the 40-player maximum roster Becker envisions. Yet, given the school's misdiagnosis of expected availability for its first game, it might behoove everyone to wait and see if the Plainsmen eventually have as robust a program as they -- and all their fans -- hope.