Band, cheerleading grapple with demise of football |

Band, cheerleading grapple with demise of football

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The discontinuation of football at Whittell High School is not only affecting the 11 players and coaching staff, but band, opposing teams and student enrollment.

Three students have left Whittell for Douglas High School, which has a sufficient number of students to field a team.

A one-time waiver offered by the NIAA is available for student-athletes to transfer to Douglas or South Tahoe high schools. The waiver expires when the season begins.

A few football players had a different idea. Some strapped on shin guards to play soccer.

Whittell, which has a student body of about 240 students, halted its program this year because of a lack of players. The team had 13 players on Tuesday, including three freshmen. Three players were injured last week during a scrimmage.

John Houghton, Whittell’s band and music teacher, used his students’ performance at football games to determine one-third of their first semester grade. He spoke to the soccer coach about the band playing at games, but it would be too cumbersome and limit the opportunities for students to toot horns and bang drums.

Playing at games would usually cover the first seven weeks of school, Houghton said.

Incline High School, Whittell’s rival, would have played their nemesis on the last game of the season on Oct. 30.

Chris Morgan told his players the news Wednesday. Morgan, the Incline coach who teaches at STHS, was disappointed in the news but said the situation may be all too real for Incline in the coming years. Morgan said the Incline team has 12 upperclassmen and 10 lowerclassmen, including freshmen.

“I don’t know what it is about the lake schools,” Morgan said.

Incline has twice the enrollment of Whittell. The school is scrambling to replace the Whittell game. If Incline makes the playoffs and can’t find a replacement, there will be the mixed blessing of a two-week break.

“It could heal some injuries or put a lull on things and kids can come off a little offbeat,” said Incline’s Athletic Director Dan Schreiber.

Whittell will see a minimal loss of money with football being gone. Concession and gate sales will be mitigated by the school’s not paying officials.

As for the half dozen or so cheerleaders, Whittell Athletic Director Brian Mehrer said the school might be the first in the state to have cheerleaders at soccer games. Cheerleaders also attend basketball games in winter.

School officials said the cancellation of football is temporary and is hoping to resume the sport next fall.

— E-mail William Ferchland at

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