UNC coach Larry Fedora reacts in surprise to local high schools dropping football

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ByJoe Mazur via WTVD logo
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) -- Chapel Hill High School is the second public school in Orange County to nix varsity football this season.

Cedar Ridge High School pulled the plug earlier this year and East Chapel Hill didn't play varsity last year.

That's three schools all in the same area struggling to find enough players.

So what is happening? Where are the available players going?

The population in Chapel Hill continues to grow. The schools aren't getting smaller.

Here's the breakdown of enrollment at CHHS:

Freshmen - 353

Sophomores - 444

Juniors - 395

Seniors - 375

A spokesperson for the school district said that Chapel Hill High School has close to 500 student-athletes. Only 35, including 5 seniors, wanted to play football?

Jackson Fortney was expecting to play varsity for the Tigers as a freshman this season. He believes peers are choosing an easier path instead of the grind that is football, which requires practice six days a week starting at 7 a.m.

"I just think people don't want to put in the work. Because who wants to do 50 pushups until you can't do them anymore and then get yelled at and have to do sprints", Jackson asked.

Of course, most moms make the decision on the side of safety.

Jackson's mom is on board with football for many reasons and holds dear the traits you can't get in a highly academic environment alone.

"I think kids are missing out on things that can't be taught in a classroom. Things like team, teamwork, discipline, perseverance," she said.

UNC head football coach Larry Fedora appeared surprised by the news of varsity programs going belly up in his backyard. The news dropped a few weeks after Coach Fedora made national headlines defending the sport he loves.

"I don't know what the culture of those schools is so it would be hard to say. I hate it if that's what's happening," said Fedora. "Those young men are missing out on a tremendous opportunity. It's likely that those young men are just taking a different path either playing specialized sports year-round or just not interested."

CHHS plans to resume varsity football next season.