Cerritos High School football will no longer play at the varsity level for the remainder of the 2012 season.
According to the Press Telegram, rumors about the demise of the floundering program were abound last week. And on Wednesday the Dons announced that the move to drop the team to junior varsity level competition was effective immediately and made due to safety concerns for its players.
"After careful consideration and consultation, the Cerritos High School varsity football program will be modifying our schedule by participating at the junior-varsity levels of competition for the remainder of this season," the school said in a statement issued by co-athletics director Robert Adams.
"The decision has been made based on safety concerns for our student athletes and will give our program some time to develop, allowing us to return to a full varsity schedule next school year."
When asked to elaborate about the safety concerns behind this decision, director of human resources Dr. Susan Hixson of the ABC Unified School District emphasized that player safety is always of the utmost importance.
"We've got many players injured because of level of competition and we became very concerned," Hixson told Patch.
"The coaches, athletic directors and administration became very concerned about student safety and of the injuries that were occurring. So they decided it would be better to continue with the football season but modify the schedule and have the team participate at the JV level," she added.Click here to read about the online petition that has been formed asking the school's administrators to immediately reinstate the varsity football program.
The Cerritos varsity football program has struggled for nearly a decade, winning just 12 games and losing 72 since its last winning season in 2003. This year alone, the Dons are off to a 0-4 start.
The Dons' 2011-2012 season began with much uncertainty, with Coach Chad Reed, resigning at the start of the season in the wake of a student-athlete’s accusation of “inappropriate contact” during practice. To fill the void, the school appointed assistant coach Shontae Pouncey as the interim head coach for the remainder of the year.
But last year's team never bounced back from its tumultuous start posting a winless season (0-10) for the second time in 10 years.
However, the program and its followers received a glimmer of hope in the off-season with the hiring of new head football coach Darin Owens, a man whose shown he can flip losing teams into winners.
Prior taking over at Cerritos High, Owens helped turn around an abysmal program at Hillcrest High School in Idaho Falls, Idaho. When he arrived at Hillcrest in 2008, the team was on a 23-game losing streak and had only scored three offensive touchdowns the previous season. But in just one year, Owens worked his magic and led the team to a championship.
That magic touch, however, has yet to prove itself here in Cerritos. In the Dons' four games this season, the team has been blown out each time losing to Buena Park 74-0, Morningside 58-0, Gahr 53-0, and Ocean View 49-0.
As a result of the decision to suspend varsity play, Cerritos, which was slated to compete against Bellflower High School on Friday night, will instead play against Bellflower's JV team Thursday.