High School Sports

This Triangle high school will go without varsity football this season. Here's why.

Cedar Ridge quarterback Philip Berger (11) throws a pass. The Cedar Ridge Red Wolves played the Orange Panthers in a football game that took place in Hillsborough, N.C., on Oct. 14, 2016. Orange won 42-3.
Cedar Ridge quarterback Philip Berger (11) throws a pass. The Cedar Ridge Red Wolves played the Orange Panthers in a football game that took place in Hillsborough, N.C., on Oct. 14, 2016. Orange won 42-3. newsobserver.com

For the second time in as many years, a Triangle high school will go a season without varsity football.

Cedar Ridge will play only a junior varsity schedule this fall, which is what Red Wolves conference foe East Chapel Hill did last season. (The Wildcats will be back under the Friday night lights this fall.)

Cedar Ridge's decision, like East Chapel Hill's a year ago, is based on safety concerns that come with having few juniors and seniors in the program.

According to a statement on the Orange County Schools website, Cedar Ridge was slated to have just five seniors and nine juniors this year, along with 15 sophomores and 22 freshmen.

"Our upperclassmen participation is concerning in our efforts to field a varsity football program," the statement read. "While we are disappointed that we need to take this step, we believe that safety is paramount and our most important responsibility."

The statement also said that playing a JV-only schedule would "give our freshmen, sophomores, and juniors the opportunity to play against peers of similar size and strength. This will provide us a full year to allow our players to get stronger, experience success, and prepare to restore our varsity football program in the fall of 2019. "

A "comprehensive plan to address player recruitment and strength and conditioning" will also be developed.

"We firmly believe this is the best decision possible to first and foremost ensure the safety of our student athletes and secondly, to build a football program into the future," the statement concluded.

Cedar Ridge, located in Hillsborough, opened in 2002 and had an enrollment of 1,145 students last year. The Red Wolves went 1-10 in football, ending the year on a 10-game skid after a 21-6 win in the opener against Carrboro.

Canceling a varsity football game can be costly to a high school's athletic department. East Chapel Hill estimated that last year's move cost the school $10,000.

Big Eight Conference teams will lose a game for the second straight year. Last season, Cedar Ridge and Northwood were the only two teams that found a nonconference opponent to replace East Chapel Hill on the schedule.

This year, all eight teams planned on playing a full schedule of 11 games.

The Red Wolves' nonconference opponents would have been Carrboro, Eastern Guilford, Southern Alamance and Rocky Mount Prep.

Unlike East Chapel Hill, which is also in Orange County but belongs to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Cedar Ridge has had two 10-win seasons in its history. In 2010, it was a win away from reaching the 2AA state title game, falling to Elizabeth City's Northeastern High 21-7 in the East final.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments