There won’t be any football Fridays at Tupelo Christian Prep this season. The school sent out a release on Tuesday that said the 2013 season had been canceled.
“We simply are not comfortable with the potential safety risk resulting from being unable to adequately field a varsity level team,” TCSP headmaster Brian Benscoter said in a statement.
It came down to figures for the Eagles. They played last season with only 18 players. Second-year coach Shaune Holiday said 19 would have been on the roster this season.
The Eagles had opted to go independent this season with the hopes of rejoining a Mississippi High School Activities Association division in two years at the next reclassification.
There was one senior and one junior on the team, with 14 freshmen and three eighth graders. There is still a team, and plans to keep practicing, just not a season. Holiday said he hopes to restart things next season.
“It’s a safety issue. We just don’t want to put those young guys in harm’s way right now,” Holiday said. “It’s strictly numbers.”
The junior high program will continue on with eight games and Holiday says lower-grade classes are getting bigger.
It would have been the Eagles’ fifth season since joining the MHSAA. Holiday said the decision was made Monday and he told the players Tuesday morning.
“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do was tell those kids we weren’t going to have a football season,” Holiday said. “They’ve been in the weight room lifting weights, everything I’ve asked them to do.”
TCPS athletics director and defensive coordinator Aubrey Boren was alerting the teams on his school’s eight-game schedule of the situation.
MHSAA associate director Lonnie Tillman said TCPS opponents can schedule other games if they can arrange it. The season begins on Aug. 23.