LP puts a two year hold on varsity football due to a lack of players

Published 10:20 am Friday, November 18, 2022

With a dwindling number of upperclassmen, the Lyle-Pacelli football program will not field a varsity team for the next two seasons.

Lyle Athletic Director Bill Smith said the decision was tough, but necessary if the Athletics want to keep football around in the long run.

“We just don’t have the numbers for players and some of those kids don’t have the experience at the varsity level,” Smith said. “We don’t feel comfortable competing at the varsity level.”

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The decision was announced on Thursday through an e-mail that was sent out to parents in both districts.

LP had its best record in a decade this past fall as it went 4-5 overall. The Athletics had 18 players on their varsity roster and nine of those players were seniors, leaving the team with a lot of youth and very little experience.

The Athletics also play in a loaded section as Grand Meadow and LeRoy-Ostrander have won recent state championships, and Spring Grove is playing in this year’s nine man title game.

“Football is just different from other sports,” Smith said. “We can speak highly of our district in nine man football for the teams we’ve had. Our kids just want to play and it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the varsity level. Some of them are relieved that they don’t have to play at that varsity level and not be competitive. That’s not good for the other team as well when games aren’t competitive.”

LP has a large group of junior high football players coming up and Smith is optimistic that the program can field a junior high and junior varsity season in the next couple of years. LeRoy-Ostrander also canceled its varsity football season in 2015 and the Cardinals took home the state title in 2021.

While a state title isn’t the expectation, LP may keep its younger players interested in football as they play at their own level.

“We are looking out for the safety of our players,” Smith said.

While the announcement is coming out early, Smith said that will offer plenty of time for other teams in the District to set up their schedules.

Lyle High School and Pacelli High School have had an athletic cooperation since 1999.