MANSFIELD — Big changes will be taking place for the Blue Ridge High School football team in the fall.
Because of to the low numbers of students (especially juniors and seniors) who have committed to playing football for the 2013 season, Blue Ridge will only be running a junior varsity schedule.
However, the district does plan to reinstate the varsity program the following year for the fall 2014 season.
Meeting in Mansfield, school board members recently approved a proposal by Blue Ridge High School Principal John Lawrence and athletic director Eric Decker.
The proposal by Lawrence and Decker states, "Because of the few juniors and seniors that have expressed and demonstrated any interest, we feel that it would be best to give students some success and training at the junior varsity level for one season in hopes that they will be able to compete at the varsity level the following year."
Lawrence said the safety of the students was the sole reason for the decision to not have a varsity program this year.
The district held a meeting regarding the future of the football program last November to discuss options, which included running a JV schedule only or consolidating with another district.
Retired area football coach John McIntire volunteered to complete a study. McIntire said "the junior and senior class must provide at least 14 players and the total required minimum number of players on the team should be 32."
Lawrence said between 18 and 21 students have said they wanted to participate in the upcoming season. Of those, only seven will be seniors and one a junior. About 13 sophomores and a few freshmen have also committed to playing.
The homecoming football game and dance are still planned for this fall and the Blue Ridge Marching Band will still perform at the games.
The upper class students who play will still get to have a "senior night" and receive a varsity letter, Lawrence said.
"We're going to make it as much a positive experience as we can," Lawrence said.