NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) - Injuries forced the Neillsville high school varsity football team to cancel the last game of their season.
“We did have a torn a.c.l., evidently (last) Friday, we've had some head injuries, some kids have a broken collar bone, so it's pretty much everything,” Superintendent John Gaier said.
Opening the season with 18 players, the team had few backups, forcing many to play on both sides of the ball. But six injured Warriors kept them off the gridiron for their final battle of the year.
“It's like if you drive more, you're bound to be in more accidents because you're exposing yourself to that risk more,” Karen Statz, whose son played on the team two years ago, said.
Deciding not to force players into learning a new position quickly, or bring up smaller freshmen to play against Edgar, left some upset, but many others thankful.
“It was disappointing I’m sure for the kids that aren't hurt, that they don't get to play, but based on a conversation with our coaching staff and our trainer, we thought it was best to not expose the kids to a risk of more injury,” Gaier said.
“Winning is good, but not at the risk of injury and permanent damage,” Statz said.
Both school administration and parents in the community said they hope the team's recent slide won't discourage players from returning to the field next august.
“I hope that our young kids think football is fun and it's something they want to be a part of ... and build a program around that,” Gaier said.
“Even an animal knows when it's hurt. Sometimes you gotta go lick your wounds before you can come back,” Statz said.
Gaier said three of the team’s six seniors were injured and forming a co-op team next year is a possibility if another school is a good fit.