For the third time in 20 years, North County Christian will not have the size or interest to field its eight-man football team.
Though the Crusaders would only need eight players to compete, athletic director Larry Halderman told the team he was hoping for a minimum of 12 to avoid injuries and using the same players in every play on offense, defense and special teams.
By the time his self-imposed June 21 deadline arrived, Halderman learned only eight students wanted to participate. The lack of interest forced him to cancel the football season for the third time since 1993 — a year after the school introduced the sport.
Halderman said another reason for the setback was the school’s enrollment. Though the number of students in grades 9-12 weren’t separately available, the enrollment for K-12 fell from 168 to 142 this school year (as of Thursday).
“It’s mainly the economy that’s affecting us,” Halderman said. “It seems to be hitting us harder than past years.”
However, administrator Jennifer Clayton said the school received a “generous” contribution this school year that will go toward helping students supplement their tuitions and offering scholarships.
North County Christian had a full football schedule with nine games before Halderman informed opposing schools it had to cancel the season. The Crusaders last went without football in 2001, before competing at the junior varsity level the following three seasons and reintroducing the sport at the varsity level in 2005.
“With interest, we will bring back our football program next year,” Clayton said.
The only other scheduled sport in the fall is volleyball. The Crusaders expect to have boys and girls basketball in the winter and softball and baseball in the spring.
“We’re hoping that we can offer seasons in the other programs,” Halderman said.
“It’s when you’re drawing from a smaller pool, any program could be in jeopardy when the kids don’t want to play and the commitment isn’t there. There are no guarantees.”
Meanwhile, Coast Union will return to varsity football after having to cancel the 2011 11-man season because of a lack of upperclassmen. This season, the Broncos will compete in 8-man football in the Candor League.