Loss of football players has Jupiter Christian considering move to an independent schedule
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
by Matt Porter
Jupiter Christian, which during the past decade built one of the state’s top small-school football programs, expected this to be a down season.
It didn’t expect to fall this far.
Because of a loss of several players, the perennial playoff contender will likely become independent and play a toned-down schedule for 2012.
Citing concerns over player safety, school administrators planned to meet Thursday morning to discuss dropping district rivals Glades Day and Village Academy and replacing them with weaker opponents. The school already asked out of its Aug. 24 kickoff classic game with Pahokee and informed Glades Day of its intentions.
Head coach Bill Powers expects 15 to 20 players to show up Monday, when high schools begin fall practices.
“We’ve been able to compete every year until now, which for a small school can be really hard,” Powers said. “We’ve been competing with schools twice the size to 15 times the size. We’re not going to do that this year.”
The Eagles suited up 27 for their May 17 spring game against Benjamin, a 25-14 loss.
But a rapid dropout rate since then — 13 have left the program, including eight transfers — had coaches wondering if there will be Eagles football at all. Eight have transferred, mostly to Jupiter High or Martin County High. Four transferred this week.
Jupiter Christian President Jim Colman attributed the transfers to parental unrest.
“What we’re seeing is the result of parents making the decision to move their kids mostly because they would prefer not to play in a rebuilding season,” Colman said.
As a private school with about 230 students in grades 9-12, Jupiter Christian always has struggled to fill out its football roster. Last year, it had an opening-day roster of 45 players. By contrast, Jupiter High, a public school with an enrollment of about 3,000, had 110 players show up for practices last August.
The football team graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team, including Princeton-bound quarterback Kedric Bostic. This year’s senior class has about half the size of last year’s school-record 66.
The Eagles, who went 9-3 last year and won state titles in 2008 and 2009, would be ineligible for the playoffs as an independent. By dropping Glades Day, they would put a halt to one of the area’s best rivalries.
Glades Day is 4-3 against Jupiter Christian since 2008. Behind star running back Kelvin Taylor, the Gators beat the Eagles in the regional finals in 2009 and 2010 and in the regional semifinals last year.
“I’m very disappointed. Evidently they got into a tough spot,” Glades Day coach Pete Walker said. “We’ve had some great games with them. I was looking forward to lining up against them this year.”