Yerington football forfeits rest of season | SierraSun.com

Yerington football forfeits rest of season

Charles Whisnand and Sylas Wright
Sun News Service and Sierra Sun

Yerington High football coach Cody Neville, his staff and players must have known then what was going to happen after they walked off the field last Friday night at Fernley.

Neville’s team was down to 14 players after a 62-7 loss to Vaqueros, and it became clear then that the Lions wouldn’t be able to compete at the Northern 3A level. So the Yerington football program made the decision to forfeit the rest of its season, beginning with Friday’s scheduled game at Dayton.

The Lions will continue to play a junior varsity schedule for the rest of the season.

Yerington ” a member of the Northern 2A before this season ” was scheduled to play at Truckee on Oct. 25.

Truckee football coach and athletic director Bob Shaffer said it will be almost impossible to find a replacement game this deep in the season.

The home contest was one of only four on the Wolverines’ schedule, and only three of those were league games.

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“With only four home games to begin with, and now with only three, this hurts us financially,” Shaffer said. “It’s kind of a snowball effect, because all the other (sports) programs depend on (revenue from) the football games. So this puts a dent in our income that was down anyway because of having only four home games, instead of five.”

Shaffer said he also is not a fan of bye weeks.

“I’ve always said I’d rather play the game than have a bye,” he said, adding that teams can lose focus and continuity in that time.

Neville said the decision was basically made to cancel the rest of the season during a meeting with parents and players on Tuesday night. He said Yerington notified the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) on Wednesday and that the NIAA had no problems with the decision.

He added the NIAA won’t seek any punishment against Yerington for canceling the season.

“They supported our decision,” Neville said. “There’s not going to be any kind of sanctions against us.”

In Friday’s game, Yerington lost four starters to injury, three of them to “pretty severe” concussions, Neville said, and another to a knee injury. That left the Lions with 14 players, some of whom came into the season without any football experience. Neville said the four starters were “replaced with kids with very little experience.”

Neville said the decision to end the season was particularly painful for the seniors, who wanted to continue, but at the same time understood that the Lions couldn’t go on. “Our seniors made the sacrifice,” Neville said.

About how his seniors have handled what’s happened, Neville said, “They did it with style.”

“They fought really hard in the Fernley game,” he said. “They fought to the end of the game.”

Yerington was 1-3 this year, beating Northern 2A Silver Stage, losing to Northern 2A Lovelock and losing to Northern 3A teams Lowry and Fernley.

The Lions have always believed they belonged in the Northern 2A and have fought to stay there. But going into 2008, Yerington’s enrollment was at 467 ” seven above the limit ” and the NIAA board pushed it back up to 3A. The realignment cycle calls for Yerington to stay up at 3A for two years through 2009.

But one thing is for sure ” Yerington will not play 3A football in 2009. The Lions will again petition the NIAA to move back down to 2A in 2009. If the request is denied, the Lions will play as an independent against mostly 2A teams in 2009.

Neville said Yerington’s enrollment should place it in the Northern 2A in 2010. “There’s virtually no doubt we will be down in two years,” Neville said.

He noted that Yerington’s enrollment only exceeded the 460 limit in two months during the last year. One of those months just happened to be when the NIAA board voted on realignment. Yerington’s enrollment is now at 442 and in 3A the next smallest school the Lions play has an enrollment of 800.

“The fatigue factor is just so overwhelming out there,” said Neville about why his team couldn’t continue. “There comes a point when the risk outweighs the benefit and that’s where we got. That’s not what high school football is supposed to be about.”

The fatigue factor became painfully clear in the Fernley game ” not just to Yerington, but to others.

“There was a lot of concerned e-mails, letters, calls ” not just from Yerington people either,” Neville said.

Neville said none of the parents at Tuesday’s meeting protested the decision. “The ones that came up to me were very supportive and actually thankful,” Neville said.

While the Yerington coach has done his best to take the high road, there’s no hiding the fact that he believes if the Lions were allowed to stay at 2A, none of this would have ever happened.

“I really feel like it shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” Neville said. “Something’s broken and needs to be fixed.”