Just over a year after canceling its 2017 season due to low participation numbers, the Rock River football team will forfeit its 2018 season for the same reason, Ty Vallier, the school’s activities director, told the Star-Tribune on Tuesday.
The Longhorns played in scrimmages earlier this season before announcing forfeitures in their Week 2 game against Kaycee and upcoming Week 3 contest against Lingle-Fort Laramie.
“Our season now, we’re going to have to shut down,” Vallier said. “Due to lack of numbers and injuries. We don’t have enough to field a team.”
The Longhorns, who play in the Class 1A/6-man East Conference, began the season with just nine healthy players. That number fell to five healthy players during six-man scrimmages scheduled against Saratoga and the Natrona County junior varsity.
Vallier said varsity games actually being played became a week-by-week issue, and at that point the decision was made.
“That’s what it ended up being and that’s not fair to everyone else,” he said. “So we decided to just not continue with the season.”
According to the most recent Average Daily Membership (ADM) numbers supplied by the Wyoming High School Activities Association, Rock River has the third-smallest enrollment out of any school — and smallest among those with a football program coming into the season — with WHSAA-member athletic programs with 29.20. Back in July, Ten Sleep announced its forfeiture of the season. Ten Sleep is the fourth-smallest school according to the same ADM numbers with 34.43.
“It’s more of an enrollment issue,” Vallier said. “Out of the boys we have, over half of our boys played football.”
Vallier noted that Rock River averages 10-12 players for basketball season.
Rock River started its football program back in 2014. The Longhorns won their opening game 45-38 against St. Stephens but did not win again that year. They repeated the same results in 2015. The Longhorns still fielded a team in 2016 but did not win a game.
Rock River has not played a varsity game since.
Prior to the forfeiture of two full seasons the Longhorns were forced to forfeit a game against Guernsey in its inaugural 2014 season due to low numbers. They were able to field a team the following week.
On the same day that Rocky Mountain announced its forfeiture of Friday’s game against Newcastle due to low numbers, Rock River joins fellow 6-man side Ten Sleep and Class 1A/11-man team Saratoga as Wyoming high school football programs that have canceled their varsity seasons due to low participation numbers.
“It was a decision that we made and put a lot of thought into,” Vallier said.