GEORGETOWN — There will not be football at Georgetown High this coming season after all.
Despite the Georgetown School Committee voting unanimously to allow high school sports in the Fall 2 season, Georgetown athletic director Ryan Browner confirmed on Tuesday that school administrators had determined football and cheerleading can't be held this season due to a variety of logistical challenges.
An announcement was first circulated on Friday in an email to parents indicating that the season wouldn't be held, and discussions continued over the weekend before the decision was finalized on Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, I am writing to inform you that due to the insufficient registrations, the football program and cheerleading program will not run during the Fall 2 season," Browner wrote on Friday. "This was not an easy decision for anyone, but considering the lack of registrations, the high contact/Covid restrictions and the financial impact it has on the district, we are unable to offer these sports. Despite the effort of our players, parents, coaches and extending the deadline, we were unable to make it work. The impact of missing a season could be devastating to a program, but we are confident in the fall of 2021 to offer a full array of sports."
Georgetown football coach Eric McCarthy declined to comment on the cancellation, instead saying that this year's team would have been among the most talented he'd ever had.
"We had three receivers being recruited for college football and a junior quarterback who went 10-1 and threw for over 3,000 yards on the sub-varsity last year," McCarthy said. "The captains were very dedicated and showed tremendous work ethic over the last 15 months."
The decision not to play comes after Georgetown experienced a significant COVID-19 outbreak in its basketball programs over the winter, forcing the school to shut down its season halfway through the year. That outbreak was a major source of anxiety during the School Committee's discussion earlier this month, and school officials have repeatedly pledged to ensure nothing similar happens again.
Regardless, the announcement that football and cheerleading wouldn't take place has prompted significant frustration from players and parents, who took issue with the notion that low participation was the reason for cancelling.
Evan Swanton, a senior football player, said a number of students had planned on signing up but that registration was abruptly closed last Thursday and they weren't given the opportunity to sign up. He added that supporters of the program had offered to help cover the costs of the season from a financial perspective, but that at the end of the day it seemed as if the school administration was determined not to play even after the School Committee voted unanimously in favor of competing.
"The whole process seemed rigged, every other school in the CAL is practicing right now and I'm sitting at home," Swanton said. "It's a real shame to not play and I hope none of the other Cape Ann League players take it for granted."
Pete Lucido, whose son Jack is a junior wide receiver for the Royals, echoed a similar sentiment.
"For some reason we're in this Georgetown bubble that everyone across the country and our Cape Ann League neighboring towns, their school committees are allowing them to play, and the MIAA is allowing teams to play with proper safety modifications," Lucido said. "I don't understand what makes Georgetown different than other communities, across the state and in Northern Mass. That part is frustrating."
In regards to the participation numbers, Browner said that registration initially opened on Feb. 12, the day after the School Committee vote, and was originally slated to remain open for five days until the following Tuesday at 1 p.m., at which point 12 participants had signed up. He said registration was subsequently extended for two more days until this past Thursday at 4 p.m., at which point there were 18 players registered.
With tryouts scheduled to begin days later Browner said they couldn't extend any further and that a decision had to be made, but that the decision to cancel wasn't an easy one.
"It wasn't just a yes or no answer, there were multiple meetings, long meetings, with different people involved and it went back and forth," he said. "And ultimately we came to the decision that we went with."
While football and cheerleading won't take place, Browner confirmed that the Georgetown girls volleyball team will still compete. The Fall 2 season officially began on Monday and is scheduled to run through April 25.