By Eric Stock
FARMER CITY - Football coaches in the Heart of Illinois Conference are scrambling to fill a late opening to their schedules as Blue Ridge High School in Farmer City has decided it won't field a varsity team for the 2013-14 season.
The program has won just one game over the last six years and has a shortage of upperclassman going out for football. Conference president Sean Berry, Principal at Tremont High School, said he hopes the football program will be able to rebuild.
"I think if they had continued to go out and things continue the way they've been year after year, the program might have died out on its own," Berry said. "This is at least a step for them to reel it in and make some changes and hopefully get better results."
Berry notes that Blue Ridge has had a successful boys soccer program and that can sometimes can at football program's expense because they are competing for a student athlete's time.
Blue Ridge will field a junior varsity team this season under new head coach Matthew Bryant.
Berry said schools in the 13-team conference that can't find a replacement on the schedule could take a forfeit win, but won't get any playoff points. He said some schools might find it challenging to find an adequate replacement this late into the school year when many football schedules are already set.
"We are already scheduled out through 2015, and we are actually starting the process of the '16 and '17 cycle, which is why we need to have a back-up plan in case Blue Ridge football doesn't continue," Berry said.
Blue Ridge's last winning season in football was in 2001 it has compiled an 8-91 record in the 11 years since.