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Meeting planned to discuss future of Centennial varsity football program

Meeting planned to discuss future of Centennial varsity football program
Centennial's Elijah White runs into the endzone for a touchdown catch to end the second quarter against Marriotts Ridge during a football game at Centennial High School on Sept 23, 2016. (Howard County Times file)

Centennial High School football coaches, athletics and activities manager Jean Vanderpool, school and county administrators, and student athletes and parents will hold a meeting Thursday at the school to discuss the future of the varsity football program, according to Howard County Public School System Senior Communications Strategist Brian Bassett.

The discussion will be focused on the low participation numbers on the team and options and possibilities for the student athletes if the numbers don't increase. Bassett said there are several possible outcomes, including the disbanding of the team for the 2017 season, but "there are a lot of things in play" and a decision on the future of the team won't be made until after the meeting at the earliest.

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"At this point, nothing has changed," Bassett said. "At this point, numbers are low; we're aware of that. There is a meeting that coaches, athletics and activities manager, and some administrative staff are going to have in order to consider options on what to do if numbers don't increase."

Bassett added, "This is the first time I can remember that football participation has been this low."

Centennial went 1-9 last season and 0-10 in 2015 and 2014 after winning seven games in 2013.

HCPSS Athletics Coordinator John Davis said he was notified of the potential issues surrounding the low turnout a couple days after the first day of tryouts on Aug. 9. Davis said the ultimate goal is for Centennial to have a varsity program this season but they "will make the best decision for the safety of our kids and for the county as well."

Bassett said the school wants to make a decision as soon as possible for the sake of the families and students, as well as the 10 other county varsity teams on Centennial's schedule that could be impacted if the decision is made to discontinue the varsity team this year.

The disbanding of a varsity football team before the start of the season would be unprecedented in Howard County and would create a hole in the schedule of every county team except Oakland Mills High School, which is not scheduled to play Centennial this season.

In addition, none of the disbanding team's opponents would be awarded a forfeit because, according to the MPSSAA rule book, a team that disbands either temporarily or permanently must have played at least one regular season game in order for an opponent to be awarded a forfeit. Opponents, however, would be awarded a forfeit as long as a team plays at least one regular season game, and Davis said "everybody is aware of the scenarios and the new language in the bulletin, so we're looking at everything.

"Everything is really on the table at this point. There are no decisions yet."

This story will be updated.

Reach Tim Schwartz at timschwartz@baltsun.com or follow him on Twitter @TimSchwartz13

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