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Mike Chavez and Bobby Humphries once competed at a high level for proud high school football programs, with Chavez playing wide receiver and linebacker at Linganore and Humphries lining up at running back and linebacker for Thomas Johnson.

So while making the decision to not compete isn’t part of their DNA, it became a necessary course of action for a Patriots varsity football team with low participation numbers.

TJ announced on Wednesday during Frederick County Public Schools’ monthly athletic directors meeting that it will forfeit Saturday afternoon’s varsity football game against Tuscarora.

Now the Patriots’ athletic director, Chavez said 22 players dressed for last week’s road game at Middletown but it was determined that only 14 would be available to play on Saturday. Chavez attributed the decrease in available players to injuries and “other various reasons.”

“We’re both former athletes, and we’re both competitors,” Chavez said, referring to himself and Humphries, the Patriots football coach. “It’s heavy on my heart to make this decision, but ultimately I have to do what’s best for our student-athletes and our program.”

Chavez, Humphries and TJ principal Dan Lippy, Chavez said, made “a joint decision” on Tuesday to forfeit their upcoming game before making an official announcement on Wednesday.

FCPS principals also attended Wednesday’s meeting, which took place at TJ.

Notifying his players, many of whom he praised profusely for the effort they put forth in TJ’s Week 1 loss to Middletown, may have been the task that ate at Humphries the most. Humphries said nine of his athletes played on both sides of the ball throughout the entire game.

“The question [they asked] was, ‘Why? Coach, I want to play. Why? Why can’t we go play?’” Humphries said. “Every one, that’s what they said.”

Chavez said he doesn’t necessarily set a minimum for the total number of players he’d like for the Patriots to dress for each game. Having enough players properly trained for each position takes on more meaning for Chavez, who said safety issues arise when teams do not have any sort of depth at any one particular position.

“It’s dangerous to have a student play a position he’s unfamiliar with,” said Chavez, who struggled to recall the last instance where a lack of available players led to a forfeit.

Humphries said the Patriots are particularly shorthanded on the offensive line.

“It all starts with linemen,” Humphries said. “You can have as many skill guys as you want. And if you don’t have a line group that’s protecting them, then you can’t have success.”

Chavez said he and Humphries will re-evaluate the team’s situation early next week and determine if the Patriots can play their next game, a home contest against Oakdale on Sept. 20.

TJ’s junior varsity team has approximately 35 players, and Chavez called moving some of those athletes to the varsity team a possibility. However, he said many of the JV players are freshmen and sophomores who have no more than a year of experience playing organized football.

That lack of experience touches on the biggest problem TJ’s football program faces.

While youth athletic programs such as the Catoctin Youth Association (CYA), the Glade Valley Athletic Association (GVAA), the Linganore Oakdale Urbana Youth Athletic Association (LOUYAA) and the Middletown Valley Athletic Association funnel future high school football players into the districts of other public high schools, the Patriots do not have a feeder program.

Humphries said about a third of the Patriots’ players who competed in Wednesday’s JV game against Tuscarora played in their first football game.

“If I say, ‘A gap, B gap,’ those might be JV terms that my JV players don’t have yet,” Humphries said. “So I’m teaching them basic football, and I have to do that on top of teaching them to hit, be hit and be safe.”

However, Humphries doesn’t want to use the feeder system disadvantage as an excuse.

“We’re trying to not let that define us,” Humphries said. “We can’t be defined by the fact that we don’t have a youth program.

“It just means that we have to work harder. The guys that I have right now in the program know that they have to start working harder than anybody else to right this ship.”

(17) comments

ShirtsVsSkins

I’m sure Coach Ben Wright is Turning over in his grave. Chavez is a joke and needs to take his No talent or clue on how to run a organization maybe checking out the peewee league. It’s absolutely ridiculous what was once a proud program with coaches and staff that worked hard with the kids are just a bunch of snowflakes. That program will never be a contender

StephanieB

I think the students at TJ are amazing (Academically and Athletically). So I was astounded that TJ hosted and then gave the Cross Country runners SOCCER medals at this past week's meet. That spoke volumes. While I understand the "popular" sports get the funds, all of these kids work hard. Please show respect, especially in honor of your own students. That reflected poorly in so many ways.

sevenstones1000

I guess Friday Night Lights no longer important. Oh well. Maybe now schools can concentrate on the classroom.

Quisling

Perhaps many of these young men don't want to damage their brain playing a game.

CapitanoZanetti

Smart young men , maybe Chavez can suit up if he wants to relive his glory days.



More focus and money on guidance councilors to help kids continue on to college or a career . Instead of idiotic blood sports which have no connection to education . Find some local pride in something else meathead adults.

Dragon314

Bigger issue is that TJ kids can’t keep the grades to play ....

Bart Rowe

Certainly, understand the decision but have sympathy for the players who want to play.

mikec

Stinks for Tuscarora kids too. I'm sure they want to play too.

Bart Rowe

No question it is not good for players at either school

Indaknow

TJ would have enough athletes if FCPS would quit letting kids who live in TJ's district transfer to play football at Oakdale.

jakereed

I'm calling BS on this one. Kids from TJ Middle attend both TJ and Oakdale. If they end-up at Oakdale it's because they live within Oakdale's boudries, probably in Spring Ridge. Name names if you've got em. I know Oakdale turned away a very good transfer just this year because he didn't actually live in the district.



The real issue here is that some greedy, self-centered, parents wrecked TJs feeder program a number of years ago by starting their own competing program. That's why you now have TJ kids showing-up in ninth grade not knowing anything about the game.

KingKam

Honestly, the whole idea of the "feeder system" is a big part of this. And it's the adults that make it so.



TJ's youth football program dissolved, what, 7-8 years ago? Those kids were told at the time they could go play with Frederick's youth program. But how many of them actually do? I'll bet not many since they use Frederick High School's imagery and all that.



And the local youth football league (MVYFL) makes it hard, if not impossible, for kids to find and play in programs that might be more developmentally appropriate for them since they have a strict feeder boundary system.



If, for example, Oakdale had a 7th grade team that was borderline to low on numbers as to actually being able to fill a team, even though most of those kids 10 years ago would have played for Linganore and the coaches all know and trust each other and all that, the league won't let them join Linganore's program in order to give kids the opportunity to play.



Or what if a significant number of parents in the Catoctin program don't like how the 6th grade team is run - maybe the coaches are a little too old school, or not enough old school, or something like that. Why can't those kids go play for, say Walkersville (GVAA), which neighbors them? The answer is, they can't, and it's because of the league.



Because of the feeder system, programs don't really have to compete for kids (except in a few situations where boundaries overlap). That means they don't really have to work to improve their programs.



This kind of stuff is crazy. It's the adults that ruin youth sports.

jakereed

Letting kids transfer freely between youth programs is a terrible idea. It sets the stage for the formation of youth all star teams and those types of teams are almost useless to the HS programs. They need kids that know THEIR system and will play at THEIR school.



MVYFL does make exceptions when numbers are an issue. They'll let kids from a program play for a different program if they cant field a team at a particular age level. The problem for TJ kids is that there's nobody to negotiate that. They have no program at all.



Urbana left LOUYAA a while back to do their own thing. I'd like to see them pull-in TJ for football to jump start that program and get it going again. Even if its only temporary.



Urbana le

KingKam

To a point I get your thoughts on that. But YOUTH sports (pre-high school) should be about player development. Athletics and fundamentals. These two things follow you to whatever high school you'd go to, and having those things in place will allow a player to quickly learn and adapt to whatever system their high school is running.



I'll bet if you gave a high school coach a great athlete that had great fundamentals who had played for some other organization (perhaps he just moved to the area) and an average kid that had played in their feeder system for at least a couple years, the great athlete would in short order beat out the average kid, even though he didn't know their system coming in. I see it happen all the time.



No youth program "owns" kids. To artificially restrict them by boundary at an early point in their sports careers I think is misguided. While I agree that sometimes kids leave programs because their parents don't think they play enough or whatever, sometimes there are actually bad situations. For information, few other local youth sports leagues (not just football) that I know of actually restrict kids to an organization by boundary. Some organizations might restrict out-of-area participants, but that's an organization decision, not a league decision.



I have never seen MVYFL make the kinds of exceptions you're talking about. Perhaps you're right and they do occasionally, but I've never seen it.



I'll bet if more future TJ kids played at Frederick over the years (it sounds like from the article that very few, if any, have), they'd be in better shape right now. If Frederick's youth program really wanted to be inclusive of TJ's kids, as they claim on their WWW site, they should abandon the high school imagery and call themselves something else. Don't know what.

jakereed

Mount Airy's 8th grade team is playing for Linganore this year because they didnt have enough players to field a team. MVAL approved that move.



You're right that playing football somewhere is better than playing nowhere but it's not an accident that the most successful HS programs in the state are the ones with true freder programs that restrict access. The exceptions to this are schools like QO who continue to import talent en masse once the kids reach HS. That's not supposed to be allowed though.



The type of open borders policy that you're arguing for is part of what killed TJ football. When they replaced their feeder program with an all star program a whole bunch of TJ kids got pushed aside.


KingKam

If I understand that Mt. Airy situation, those are players in a shared boundary area between Linganore and Mt. Airy. That's different. Those players could have played for Linganore all along, they just didn't for whatever reason. That's a situation where two organizations were competing for, at least partially, the same pool of players. It's my understanding that if a player lives in the shared area between two organizations that they can move at-will (well, season to season) between those two organizations.



Few other youth sports leagues use the kind of scheme that's used around here by football to limit portability. I just think that's a mistake and doesn't take into account the needs and wants of the kids. It doesn't have to result in an all-star team thing, though admittedly it might. It doesn't happen that much in practice. Though I get football is a little different in that there's not much opportunity above town/rec so it might be a little more of an issue.



I only remember a little of the history of what happened to TJ youth football... please refresh my memory. What organization was it that was formed? Are they still around? The only team I know of right now that's not in MVYFL is the Frederick Steelers, but it was my understanding that was former Oakdale parents that didn't want to switch to Oakdale youth football when Linganore split for the new high school. I could be wrong about that though...

jakereed

Yes, I'm referring to the Steelers. My understanding is that the program was started not only by TJ parents but by TJ parents who held positions within the feeder program. I know there were some Linganore kids (and coaches) that went to play there when Oakdale was formed but they've pulled from other areas as well.

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