By Marty Gordon
High school football programs in our area took a hit last night and next Friday as the Auburn-Floyd game scheduled for Friday night was cancelled because of the Eagles’ lack of depth after they sustained several injuries this week, the Eastern Montgomery-North Cross game also scheduled for Friday night was scratched because of COVID-related issues, Pulaski County’s game was cancelled, and Christiansburg’s game of Sept. 17 against William Byrd was shut down after Roanoke County officials faced a rise in positive COVID cases.
Floyd did manage to pick up a replacement in Grayson County, which had its game with Rural Retreat cancelled. Pulaski County also managed to find a new opponent in James Wood.
Christiansburg Athletic Director Tim Cromer said about the Byrd cancellation, “I am sorry to say that due to COVID issues, William Byrd is being shut down by Roanoke County Public Schools.”
Overall, 14 games across Western Virginia were cancelled.
Auburn Athletic Director Paul Dominy is optimistic that his school’s rash of injuries will not be a long-term problem and will allow them to play next week.
“Numbers throughout the country have been decreasing for several years, and the COVID effect is decreasing the roster numbers throughout sports in high school,” Dominy said.
Similar small schools like Craig and Bland have literally shut down their football programs in the past two years because of the lack of numbers.
“At Auburn, we have seen our numbers as a percentage of the student body decrease over the last seven years,” Dominy said. “When our overall numbers of students were rising, this was not a problem, but now that our numbers have leveled off and begun to dip, it has created roster issues. Over the past 10 years we have watched colleges change their style of offense and defense to become more attractive to student-athletes, and we have reached a point where we see an advantage in doing the same.
“We believe that the changes we have made are movements in the right direction and fully expect to be moving in a better direction once David Seabaugh has had a chance to fully implement his offense and defense,” the Eagle athletic director said.
Dominy remained optimistic about the school’s football future. “Auburn expects to have a bright future on the football field,” he said. “With our new coach and innovative offense, we believe that what we have to offer our student-athletes is more attractive than ever before. We are largely behind on roster numbers due to diminishing numbers over the last few years and the July departure of our last head coach.”