No decision on 8-man football at W-MU

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


WINFIELD ? The Winfield-Mt. Union School Board was not ready to make any decision regarding moving the football team into an 8-man class. However, students, staff and parents were ready to have their opinions heard.

The original agenda for Wednesday night?s school board meeting included the discussion and possible action of moving the football team from 11-man to 8-man. However, last week a revised agenda was sent out removing the item as the board was ?not ready to make any decisions?, according to board secretary Carmen Benson.

That didn?t dissuade community members as well as nearly the entire football team from attending the meeting. Three individuals signed up to speak on the issue during the meeting?s open forum.

Freshman Seth Schurr was the first to speak. ?I feel it is best for us to go to 8-man football. The change will be big, but it?s what will be best for us,? he read from a prepared statement.

Schurr went on to say that as a freshman he played a lot on Friday nights. ?I was not ready for varsity,? he said. ?If we would have been 8-man I would have played on JV, which would have been more competitive for me and more fun.?

Schurr?s statements were echoed by parent, Walt Freeman. ?I?ve always been a huge proponent of 11-man football, until now,? said Freeman. Freeman said his son would have benefited from playing on a junior varsity squad. Unfortunately, with low turnout there weren?t enough students to have a junior-varsity team. And with few upper classmen, freshmen and sophomores were having to step up and play against teams with much larger players. ?With only two seniors, my son had to step into a role he wasn?t ready for,? added Freeman.

Fewer players also led to difficult practices. Schurr said since there weren?t enough players on the field, they had to practice against trash cans. ?(It) isn?t very beneficial for game time,? he said.

Head coach Scott McCarty said the possible transition to 8-man would be a ?wonderful opportunity? for students and the school. ?The move from 11-man to 8-man would allow our student athletes not just to survive, but thrive through a season.?

The decision to move to 8-man would have to be made soon, as the Iowa High School Athletic Association only allows the reclassification of teams every two years. This statement was echoed by both Schurr and McCarty. Both indicated that if the program?s numbers improved down the road, the school district could always look at moving back to 11-man.

?We hope you, as a board, will be supportive of our football program and help us try to be more successful by getting us to 8-man,? Schurr said in closing.

Later in the meeting, school board member Ashlei Venghaus voiced her concern with moving to 8-man. She cited Harmony Community School District?s move to 8-man football as a red flag before the district eventually consolidated with Van Buren. According to Quik Stats Iowa, Harmony had played 8-man as far back as the 2006/07 school year, which is as far back as the online records go. In 2012 and 2013, the district did not have a team, but returned to 8-man in 2014 before eventually consolidating with Van Buren.

The board will take action on the possible move to 8-man football on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m., in the school?s media center.