High school teams in Washington are forfeiting rather than play school with NFL-sized talent
By Jake Russell
October 6, 2016 at 12:58 AM
In its first three games, Archbishop Murphy’s football team outscored its opponents 170-0. Now opponents of the Everett, Wash., private school powerhouse aren’t even trying to beat them.
With the latest opponent forfeiture, this one coming Wednesday by Granite Falls High, the Wildcats will move to 6-0, with their last three victories occurring without even having to play a down.
The reason? The Wildcats are just too huge.
Archbishop Murphy has six players who weight at least 250 pounds and three who weigh at least 300 pounds, according to CBS News.
Granite Falls held a community meeting in the school’s library Tuesday due to the injury concerns raised by parents, despite the school’s athletic director wanting to go through with the game, according to Seattle’s NBC affiliate KING 5. Archbishop Murphy team dominated the Tigers by scores of 66-6 in 2015 and 56-7 in 2014.
“My son is 5-8 and weighs 117 pounds and just got out of middle school and just turned 14,” Stacey McBride, the mother of a Granite Falls player, told KING 5. “They’ve got 18-year-old players that are 6-5 and weigh 330 pounds. I mean, that’s like putting a Volkswagen bug against a Mack truck.
“I’ve said from the very beginning that there’s no way I’m going to let my son play these guys,” McBride added. “He said, ‘Mom, I’ll get killed,’ why would I even put myself in that position?”
This isn’t the first such instance of a juggernaut team forcing teams to question the potential safety of their players. In 2010, St. George’s School of Middletown, R.I., canceled a game against Lawrence Academy (Groton, Mass.) citing disparity in players’ sizes. According to Boston Globe reporters covering the event, Lawrence Academy fielded three offensive lineman 300 pounds and upwards.
“This is strictly a safety issue,” St. George’s headmaster Eric Peterson told the Globe. “We are trying to keep our kids reasonably safe in a game that can be terribly exciting but has risks.”
Like many independent schools, Archbishop Murphy has a recruiting advantage over its public school counterparts that are restricted by district lines. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules allow the private school to recruit talent within a wide area.
“The biggest concern is the recruiting aspect that private schools are able to do. They can pull from a 50-mile radius from their campus and send buses to pick the kids up,” first-year Granite Falls Coach Tim Dennis said. “Just the level of athletes they’ve been able to bring in on one team, it doesn’t match up with a lot of the teams in our league.”
Despite the discrepancy in talent, Dennis wanted to go through with the game but understood the final decision.
“Ultimately my job, number one, is look out for these boys,” Dennis told the Everett Daily Herald. “At the same time, the competitor in me and the competitor in them does want to play the game, but the wise decision . . . is to not decimate the program for one game that really doesn’t mean anything.”
Granite Falls Athletic Director Joey Johnson carried the same sentiment.
“I honestly thought we’d play this game,” Johnson said. “I’m competitive like everybody else. You try, but at some point you have to consider the safety of the kids. That was the concern of the parents of these kids. The administration and the school district is also concerned about the safety of the kids.”
“We’re frustrated,” Archbishop Murphy senior captain Anfernee Gurley said. “It’s hard to practice four days a week and not play on a Friday night. It’s hard to stay motivated as a group, but I think we’ve done pretty well.”
Like Gurley, Archbishop Murphy Coach Jerry Jensen is not happy with the decision.
“That your Friday game has been forfeited, to me doesn’t really ring true to what we’re trying to teach our young adults here,” Jensen told CBS News. “This is their opportunity to face adversity, power through it, and it will serve them well in their life.”
Some of their boys are indeed quite large.