Answering Questions on the Cedar Ridge Football Situation

By
Updated: June 21, 2018

Since Tuesday’s announcement from the offices of the Orange County School System that Cedar Ridge won’t field a varsity football team this fall, there’s been plenty of questions and speculation. There’s also been confusion, which has led to the wrong people being blamed for things they had no control over. To help clarify the situation, here are some answers to the most basic questions surrounding what has happened and what’s ahead.

Who made the final decision to not field a varsity team?

Superintendent Dr. Todd Wirt after consulting with Cedar Ridge Principal Heather Blackmon, Orange County District Athletic Director Bob Hill and Cedar Ridge Athletic Director Andy Simmons. Cedar Ridge Football Coach Scott Loosemore met with Blackmon, Simmons and Hill last Friday.

Did the Orange County School Board have anything to do with the decision? 

No. The School Board hasn’t met since June 11th and the issue has never been formally discussed.

According to the statement released by the Orange County Schools on Tuesday, Cedar Ridge has 51 players in the program (five rising seniors, nine rising juniors, 15 rising sophomores and 22 freshman). Isn’t that enough to field a varsity team?

The issue here isn’t just quantity, but experience, proximity and safety. The press release said there were 51 players, but some of those players have opted not to play citing potential injury. Cedar Ridge’s enrollment last November, based on North Carolina High School Athletic Association figures, was 1,145. That’s the lowest in the Big 8 Conference by nearly 200 students. On top of that, several Cedar Ridge sources say enrollment has decreased to around 1,050 since January. That’s still roughly the size of 3A power Havelock.

However, an increasing amount of Cedar Ridge’s enrollment is Hispanic, and American football isn’t something that many Hispanics grow up with as a priority in their homes. This isn’t exclusive only to Cedar Ridge. Burlington Cummings also has been forced to deal with changing demographics. The Cavaliers won the 2006 2A State Championship and won the Eastern Regional Championship again the following year. In 2016, they went 0-11.

If Cedar Ridge went through with the sesaon, they would have about 25 sophomores and juniors going against opponents like Eastern Guilford (which had 64 varsity players last season), Cardinal Gibbons (79), Hillside (82), Southern Durham (86), and Southern Alamance (81). In football, your quantity often determines your quality.

Orange has the second-lowest enrollment in the Big 8 with 1,324. Why aren’t they having the same problems?

Orange basically has the entire northern end of the county to themselves. Cedar Ridge is fighting with Chapel Hill, Carrboro and East Chapel Hill for the rest of the area. This week, Orange held an intersquad scrimmage and Coach Van Smith says participation is slightly up from last sesaon. Counting JV and varsity, Smith says he has around 110 players, a number that can fluctuate based on whether students want to keep playing. As for why Orange’s numbers are better, see the above answer regarding proximity.

What happens to Cedar Ridge’s five rising seniors?

There’s no clear answer to that right now,  but it is why Monday is shaping up to be an interesting day.

Cedar Ridge will field a junior varsity squad in August, but seniors can’t play on that team. Last season, East Chapel Hill didn’t field a varsity football team, but East seniors were allowed to play at neighboring Chapel Hill High without transferring to CHHS. The decision was made by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board.

Who will decide if a similar arrangement can be made between Cedar Ridge and Orange? 

The Orange County School Board, which dictates all student policy. The next school board meeting is Monday night at 7. That meeting was scheduled months ago. Coincidentally, a group of Cedar Ridge football parents have scheduled a town hall at the school gymnasium, which will also take place on Monday night at 6:30. This town hall was called shortly after Tuesday’s announcement.

CORRECTION: The Town Hall wasn’t scheduled by parents. It was scheduled by the Orange’s County School System.

As fate would have it, Monday’s meeting is the final scheduled meeting for school board members Tom Carr, Donna Coffey, and Michael Hood. If the Cedar Ridge seniors want to play at Orange, they can approach the school board. The next scheduled board meeting is July 7th, but an emergency meeting can be requested.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar