WALLA WALLA – Some Southeast 2 B-11 League schools are scrambling to fill open dates while others appear happy to have a bye week in the wake of Garfield-Palouse’s decision to cancel its 11-man football season before it ever began.
Garfield-Palouse was a playoff qualifier in 2008, and first-year coach Scott Thompson anticipated 24 turnouts when preseason practices began.
But when Thompson called his first practice, there were only 20 players on hand.
Since then, two players have been lost to injuries, two more were declared academically ineligible, another was suspended for breaking team rules and one simply decided to quit the team.
“That dropped us to 14 players,” Gar-Pal athletic director Tim Coles explained. “You simply can’t play 11-man football with three kids on the sidelines.
“It’s all happened in the last seven or eight days, and it’s been a horror show. It’s been horrific.”
In an effort to keep the school’s football program alive, school officials worked hard to rebuild a non-league 8-man schedule that began Friday when the Vikings played St. John-Endicott.
The Vikings’ next scheduled 11-man game at Dayton one week from tonight has been rescheduled as an 8-man game that will be played in Palouse and will not count on Dayton’s regular-season schedule.
Gar-Pal will play four additional 8-man contests: The Vikings will host Wallace on Oct. 9; they will play a home-and-home series with Republic, which also went from 11-man to 8-man, on Oct. 16 at Gar-Pal and Oct. 24 at Republic; and Colton will come to Gar-Pal on Nov. 6 for the Vikings’ season finale.
Coles thinks the switch is not only necessary but permanent.
“I think what the future holds for us is 8-man football,” Coles said. “Of the 14 players we still have, seven of them are freshmen.
”We’re going to take care of our kids and not be silly. We made a decision that was right for Garfield-Palouse.”
Pomeroy has filled its vacated Oct. 16 date by scheduling Reardan. Liberty Christian, which was to play at Gar-Pal on Oct. 9, is still in the process of scheduling a new opponent. Tekoa-Oakesdale-Rosalia is looking at Colfax as a replacement for its scheduled Oct. 30 game.
DeSales and Asotin aren’t considering replacement games.