In what may turn out to be a very realistic preview of what the future holds, Foothill High School has dropped its freshman football team due to a lack of players.
The Falcons are now the third East Bay Athletic League team without a freshman team this season, joining both San Ramon schools -- California and Dougherty Valley. The remaining players on the Foothill freshman team will be combined with the junior varsity team.
It was not an easy decision for Foothill varsity coach Greg Haubner to make, but it was without a doubt the right one. As the announcer for the Foothill football program, I am at the freshman games and have seen the numbers dwindle the last few years.
At last week's game Sept. 12, Falcons dressed only 18 players for the game against Granada and by the end, had 14 players available. There are a few major problems with so few players.
* First, safety. For some of these players, it's their first year playing football and to be honest, they're not ready for much game action, let alone playing the entire game. Plus, with very limited numbers, you are forced to use players out of position, which can also lead to injury.
* Second, quality of practice. Realistically, coaches need at least 25 or more players to be able to run a practice. You want 22 players to be able to work on offense and defense against a full squad. This makes for a severe lack of quality practice time, which in turns hurts the development of the players. This leads to the third point.
* Third, fun of playing. Freshman football is a bonding experience for the players. Practice starts before school and helps make the transition into the world of high school a bit easier. In addition, the experience the players have in freshman football often determines whether they stay in the program for the next three years. Take away fun from the experience and the kids will not return.
So, what happens next?
The writing has been on the wall for some time, at least in Pleasanton, that the future for football is two teams -- varsity and frosh/soph (JV). Amador does have 33 players on its freshman team, but the Dons only dressed 20 for their JV game last week.
Around the league there are better numbers. San Ramon Valley started the season with 60 players on the freshman team, while Monte Vista had 45. That's certainly not the case in Pleasanton, especially at Foothill, and there's no signs it's going to get better.
It's sad to see Friday Night Lights moving in such a direction, especially at a school with as rich a tradition in football as Foothill. Football used to unite the entire school, bringing everyone together and instilling school pride. It's tough to watch that eroding.
The Dons split EBAL games last week, beating Dublin and dropping a match to Dougherty Valley.
In the win over Dublin, Colette Wogsland finished with 21 assists and 14 digs -- nearly getting a triple-double contributing 9 kills. Sam Riter added 15 assists and 10 digs in her varsity debut. Jillian Wittenauer just missed a double-double of her own with 9 assists and 12 digs.
Phoebe Monette had 14 kills, with Sophia Moore and Camille Ernst finishing with 8 and 6 kills, respectively. Danielle Caccamo and Ali Martinez played great defense.
In the loss to Dougherty Valley, Monette and Ernst had 12 kills apiece. Wogsland kept the offense running with 40 assists. On defense, Moore had 5 blocks and Wittenauer had 27 digs.
The Falcons had a pair of five-set thrillers last week, beating Cal and then losing to Carondelet.
The standouts against Cal were Grayce Olson (20 kills, 8 digs), Emilie Clark (14 digs, 9 service points), Sruti Jonnalagadda (9 kills, 4 blocks) and Naya Williamson (18 kills, 6 digs).
In the loss to Carondelet, Foothill got good games from Ishana Ram (43 assists, 12 digs), Williamson (17 kills, 16 digs, 5 blocks, 4 aces) and Olson (24 kills).
Over the weekend, the Falcons made it to the semifinals of the Royal High School Classic in Simi Valley, beating Royal, Ventura and San Marcos.
The losses came to Oakdale and Sierra Canyon. Williamson was named to the All-Tournament team.
Foothill JV water polo
The Falcons beat Granada 15-3 on Sept. 12 behind five goals from Spencer Cotrell.
Carter Windom had 3 goals, 4 assists and 5 steals; Hanbin Kim had 2 goals, 1 assist and 3 steals; and Nadim Kira had 2 goals and a steal.