Hampton Bays High School is dropping varsity football this season because it does not have enough upperclassmen to compete safely, according to John Foster, the director of health, physical education and athletics at the school. The school will field a junior varsity team and plans to return to the varsity level when it has enough players, Foster said.
This is the first time Hampton Bays won’t have a varsity football program in 47 years. The Baymen had only five returning seniors from last season’s 23-player roster. A team must have a minimum of 19 players to field varsity and junior varsity teams. The five returning seniors are not eligible to play for the JV team. Hampton Bays was 0-8 last season.
“Hampton Bays will not run a varsity football team this year, rather just a JV, because of low numbers of upperclassmen,” Foster said. “With most of the team consisting of freshmen and sophomores, this decision was made based on the physical and developmental appropriateness of our athletes with their safety in mind. We will use this time and energy in our middle school and year-old youth flag football program to rebuild so we can re-establish a varsity program in future seasons.”
The move forced Section XI, the governing body for Suffolk’s interscholastic sports, to push back the opening of the Suffolk Division IV season to Sept. 9 from Sept. 2.
“It was not ideal timing to find out so late that the Hampton Bays football program did not have enough participants to field a team,” said Tom Combs, the executive director for Section XI. “We gave the athletic directors in the division three options to redo the schedule and avoid having a bye and/or forfeit situation every week. And we started the season a week later than expected. We tried to keep all the homecoming games on the same dates, but some of the opponents obviously had to change. The integrity of the schedule is to play seven games in the power-ranking format and then start the playoffs.”
The 10 remaining teams will play a seven-game schedule instead of eight, and the eighth game will be played as the quarterfinal playoff round. The ninth- and 10th-place teams in the division will have the option to play each other in a non-league game in week eight.