A rash of injuries suffered by Seabury Academy’s eight-man football team has forced Seahawks athletic director Eric Nelson to pull the plug on the 2009 season.
Just three games into the program’s second season of existence, the Seahawks (1-2) will forfeit their final four games and turn their focus to the junior high squad and the 2010 varsity season.
“Obviously, it’s been a very difficult two days for us,” Nelson said. “We kind of saw the writing on the wall Friday night. It’s just apples versus oranges, and it’s not a level playing field by any means.”
The news comes just as the Seabury program was picking up momentum in terms of the big picture and just days after the varsity squad suffered a 58-0 loss to Veritas Christian. That game was called at halftime because of a long-established mercy rule at the eight-man level. Seabury took the field Friday without five of the eight starters from the week before. Most of the missing players were out due to injuries.
“At the eight-man, Div. II level, it doesn’t take many kids to go down to put you behind the eight ball,” Nelson said. “We had two kids on crutches, two with their arms in slings, and one just had pins put in his hand. Our injury situation has just been horrendous.”
Because of injuries to the upperclassmen, six of the 10 players the Seahawks suited up Friday were freshmen. According to second-year Seahawks coach Scott Peavey, asking freshmen with little or no experience to compete at the varsity level is a tall order.
“You just can’t ask 110-pound freshmen to go up against 200-pound seniors every night,” Peavey said. “This move was made out of necessity. We have a team that has been decimated by injuries. But this is far from the end of the Seabury football program. We took some steps forward this season, and I liked what I saw in terms of work ethic.”
Seabury will lose three seniors from this year’s team but expects to return 13 players with experience and will inherit a deep and talented eighth-grade class.
“I refuse to believe this is a death blow,” Nelson said. “I’m still optimistic about next year. I have the right staff to pick up the momentum again, and they have a smart group of kids. You don’t have to sugar-coat anything with them. I think they’ll be all right, and I don’t think this is anything we can’t bounce back from. We just need to get bigger and stronger. We have big IQs, not necessarily big bodies.”
Although the varsity season has come to an end, Seabury’s junior high team has two games remaining. Nelson said the ninth-graders would be able to play with the junior high team for the remainder of the season and Peavey would continue to assist that program as a coach.
Nelson also said all plans tied to the completion of Seabury’s home football field would go on as scheduled. That includes the anticipated installation of goal posts this week at the field just east of the school.
As for the remainder of the fall sports season, all other Seabury athletic events — boys and girls cross country, girls tennis and volleyball — will go on as scheduled.