Posted March 27, 2014
By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer
Madison-Plains High School’s freshman class for 2014-15 will bring with it one of the largest football recruitments the school district has ever tackled.
“The sheer number of students in the class is by far the largest in the whole district,” said Athletic Director Matt Mason. “As a result, we have 30-plus freshmen alone who want to be a part of the football program. Normally, we have 10 to 15 per class, so these students will double our regular recruitment.”
In recent years, the program attracted 35 to 40 students across all four grade levels.
With the influx of so many new players, the athletic department is looking to purchase more equipment and all new uniforms.
On March 18, Mason informed the school board that the program needs 70 new uniforms and 24 new helmets.
The uniforms will feature white and green pants and jerseys to be used for a minimum of four years. The helmets will last 10 years.
According to Mason, the uniforms will cost $18,000 and the helmets will cost approximately $5,880.
School board members were happy to hear the program is growing but raised concerns about the frequent changes in uniforms.
“We don’t want to keep changing uniforms. We want to select a specific uniform and stick with it,” said school board member David Hunter. “In the last three years, something has altered on the uniform every year. We need to be consistent. We want people to recognize Madison-Plains by that uniform and fear that uniform.”
Mason acknowledged the changes and attributed them to turnover in the athletic department personnel.
“If you look back, there has been a new head football coach and athletic director every two years,” Mason said. “When someone new comes in, they want to change the uniforms to their specific style. Our hope is our current staff is going to stay long term, so these issues will stop happening.”
The district owns 45 uniforms, but instead of asking for an additional 25 to accommodate the new players, the athletic department wants to replace all of the uniforms. Some of the uniforms will be outdated soon and will need to be replaced anyway, Mason said.
“We want to sell the old uniforms to parents, community members and players and use the earnings to pay back the board,” he added. “We know we are asking a lot, but we really think this is a great problem to have.”
Mason credits the large incoming football class in part to an active youth program. Children in first through sixth grade can participate in Golden Eagle Youth Football.
“Golden Eagle Youth Football is an all-volunteer ran program that introduces players to the basics of football,” Mason said. “They really do a great job and get kids excited about the game.”
Mason hopes to see more and more youth program participants make the transition to high school football.
“There are well over 100 kids partici-pating in Golden Eagle Youth Football, so we expect this trend of large freshman football classes to continue,” he said. “We hope to continue to build up this program.”
In 2013, the high school team’s record was 3-7.
The Madison-Plains school board will vote on the uniform and helmet funding request at their next meeting set for 7 p.m. April 15 at Madison-Plains Elementary, 55 Linson Road in London.