By Craig Harvey
When the opening night of the high school football season rolls around, one team will noticeably be missing as the Brocton Bulldogs will not field a varsity squad this year.
With 44 players signed up to play between the jayvee and varsity squad, many did not show up to practice. Last year, numbers were also low, but coach Terry Presto was able to bring some freshman up because of their physical size. However, this year's freshman class is physically smaller, ranging from 100 to 120 pounds.
''I couldn't do it this year with a clear conscious,'' Presto said about bringing up the smaller freshmen. "Last year we were playing more schools our size. It was just too tough to carry a varsity team this year - especially with Silver Creek, Randolph and Frewsburg in our Division.''
Brocton athletic director Kenneth Kowal adds, "It's for the safety of the kids.''
Presto says when he played, his team consisted of just 21 players. The difference was those 21 players were able to compete at a high level with teams in their division.
With the debate of the Fredonia-Brocton merger looming, Presto says the decision not to have a football team should have no bearing on the issue.
''This really doesn't have anything to do with lack of kids,'' he continued. ''We do have the kids here. It's not like there isn't enough kids. At this point, we had a lot of no-shows. There is a student body available. We have kids to pick from.''
Kowal says, "I am not sure if it will help promote it or deter it. It doesn't look good if we can't field a team. We will take a wait-and-see approach and see what happens.''
For this year, Presto will work with the jayvee team and build up the program, hoping next year the varsity team can return as the same competitive team that advanced to the D Bowl just a year ago.
''There is a good chance it will be back next year,'' Kowal continued. "If the jayvee players come back and maybe some will transfer in, we should be all right.''
For now, Brocton's scheduled first game of the season against Clymer will be a "glorified scrimmage," according Presto.
''This will give (Clymer coach Marc Heiser's) players some reps,'' Presto said. "He has a young team and we will match up.''