By Jason Zaleski
For the first time in its history, the Auburndale high school will field an 8-person football team as its varsity football offering. The decision takes effect immediately for the 2020 season. The move reduces the number of Marawood Conference football teams to seven and leaves open dates on member schools schedules with the vacated Auburndale match-ups.
Auburndale Athletic Director and varsity football coach, Jay Anderson, said the decision came quickly as the school decided to keep its fall sports in the traditional fall sports season.
“The discussion began last week and realizing we only have three returning upperclassmen and only a couple that could play both ways”, said Anderson. “The best thing for the school and to keep our football enthusiasm high, the decision was made for our kids to transition to 8-person football”.
“The need to go to 8-person was a difficult process and I really had a difficult time accepting it. With the inability to make contact with our students in the spring, it left us in a position where our numbers are down compared to what it could have been. We really missed the opportunity without school in the spring to begin getting the kids prepared for the upcoming football season”
The decision to leave the 11-person format is hopefully a one-year solution for the program according to Anderson. “The goal is for this season to be a one-time occurrence with the 8-person format. We hope the freshman and sophomores that play this year will stay with it and provide us the ability to grow our numbers for the upcoming seasons”.
With the sudden move, the question about getting a schedule put together is a big piece to competing with other teams in the area.
“Working on a schedule on short notice is a challenge. I have already had four schools contact us about formulating a schedule and now we need to find dates that fit for both sides. We’re also looking for a conference to be part of and am hopeful that we get that.”
Anderson wants the community to know that he is working tirelessly to keep Auburndale’s strong athletic reputation and history as a top priority.
“I know that this is not ideal, and we will be grateful for any opportunities we have. I will do anything that we can to make this good for the kids.”
Finally, Anderson emphasized the need for the move is purely a numbers issue for 2020.
“This is not a health-related issue. This is an issue where we want the kids to have fun playing high school football”.
Zaleski Sports is your source for Auburndale and all of central Wisconsin football coverage. We will update this story as Anderson and the team assembles its 2020 football schedule.