OCSD suspends varsity football season

OSWEGO - The Oswego City School District has suspended its high school varsity football season, according to a press release sent by district officials on Thursday that cited health and safety concerns for students due to low participation.

The Buccaneers had been scheduled to open the upcoming varsity season as members of the Section 3 Developmental Division with a nonleague game Saturday at Westmoreland/Oriskany.

Friday morning calls to Oswego High School athletic director Rhonda Bullard and varsity coach Paul Finch were not immediately returned.

The release stated that Oswego’s roster was “in the teens,” when the decision to suspend the season was made earlier this week. The Buccaneers had 19 players listed on their 2019 roster posted to maxpreps.com, entering the year with three above the state minimum of 16 active players required for a team to play traditional 11-man varsity football.

District officials, according to the release, stated that the risk of injury due to players being forced to play on offense and defense out of necessity, paired with the potential increased risk for concussions weighed heavily in the decision. The OCSD press release cited a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that found an estimated 15 percent of high school players experienced one or more concussions in 2017, and said that officials believe “being proactive to prevent injury is the best and most appropriate course of action.”

The decision was supported by the district physician, who said that the number of players is not sustainable for a football team this year, according to the release.

Oswego will continue to field a modified football team and stated that an alternate plan is in place for impacted players “who wish to remain athletically-engaged with their coach.”

Oswego was forced to cancel its 2016 season under similar circumstances. The Buccaneers have posted two winless campaigns since its varsity program returned from that one-year hiatus, including an 0-9 record as inaugural members of the Section 3 Developmental Division last season.

That league, created last year to aid area programs struggling to boost participation, will now consist of four teams for the upcoming season with inaugural members Phoenix and Fowler being joined by Fulton and Jamesville-DeWitt.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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