Lake Mary Prep, after going 11-1 last year, will not field a football team in 2013.

The private school announced in a release that it was discontinuing its football program for the season, citing reclassification into a higher class by Florida High School Athletic Association as the reason for the withdrawal of the program. Lake Mary Prep, with an enrollment of 254 students, moved from Class 2A to Class 3A this offseason.

"It was about player safety,” school headmaster Glenn Chapin said. "We’ve always been challenged fielding a large team, given the size of our school. When it was determined the substantial number of players that could play against 3A competition, we realized it’d be difficult to field a team that would ensure player safety."

Chapin said the school will try to rebuild and reestablish the football program after next season.

The Griffins had 16 players listed on their spring roster. Lake Mary Prep appealed FHSAA’s decision to move the program up a classification and made a formal request to return Class 2A, but the attempts were denied, according to Chapin.

Head coach Buck Gurley, who was hired in 2009, declined to comment on the program’s discontinuation and said he was told to refer all questions to director of athletics Michael Ostrowski. Gurley said he didn’t know where he’d be coaching next year and “as of right now, I’m still working with Lake Mary Prep.”

Ostrowski directed interview requests from the Sentinel to Chapin.

Lake Mary Prep was supposed to play in Class 3A, District 3. 

Tatyana McCall, the president of the program’s booster club the past four years, said there has already been a mass exodus among Lake Mary Prep players. McCall’s son, Ray Lewis III – the son of former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis – played on the team last year and is enrolled at Miami. Her two younger sons – Rayshad Lewis, a rising sophomore, and Rashaan Lewis, a rising eighth grader – have transferred and enrolled at First Academy. Linebacker Michael Taylor, who had 23 sacks last year, also transferred to First Academy. 

Players are allowed to transfer and are not obligated to fulfill their tuition contract, according to Chapin.  However, transferring players will not be refunded $350 from the deposit fee for the application.

McCall and other parents expressed frustration to the Sentinel with the program’s termination, stating that the athletic apartment, specifically Ostrowski, did not adequately allow the program to develop.

"I can’t speak to that because that is parent perception,” Chapin said. “My analysis through a carefully audit, we recognize there were shortcomings in our approach. We want to make sure as we build in the future that the internal growth model and our marketing of students…that we’re reaching out to ensure, as a small school, that we have enough students expressing interest in this particular sport."

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