GARWIN, Iowa -- Class A Green Mountain-Garwin began the season with one of the smallest 11-player rosters in Iowa. Despite a community-wide push for safety and resources behind the program, low numbers and injuries are putting the rest of their season in danger.
GMG began the season with just 19 players, but injuries on and off the field, including multiple vehicle crashes, have cut that number to 14. "Our junior tight end is 6’2", 220 pounds, and he gets hurt. His backup gets hurt Wednesday in a car accident and our third string is a 5’7", 110-pound freshman," explained GMG head coach Adam Anthony.
Already starting four freshman and multiple sophomores, a community meeting was held Thursday night where players like senior quarterback Adam Cox, coaches and the administration agreed they would forfeit Friday’s game against undefeated North Tama. Cox said, "It was a big decision to make because it’s my senior year and I didn’t want to end the season right now in case we ended the night with injuries."
Last month, West Central Valley was forced to forfeit a game versus Earlham after halftime due to injuries. GMG's week zero opponent, Martensdale-St. Mary’s, wasn’t sure they would have enough to begin the season.
GMG has more players than are required on the field but knew it may only get worse. "There was an opportunity to go out and kick off and then the option is we play and are in a position where we are going to play until somebody gets hurt, and to me that is going one step too far," said secondary Principal Nathan Kleinmeyer.
Before the season, Martensdale-St. Mary’s boosted their numbers with a letter to the community. GMG's student body isn’t from just one community. In fact, over 50 percent of the high school students are not from Green Mountain or Garwin.
"Garnering community support and sending out something is a multi-pronged effort to reel in our student efforts and gain more members of any team or activity," said Kleinmeyer.
It’s not for a lack of community support. This summer the school board approved $45,000 to outfit the entire football program with the Vicis Zero1 helmet ranked number one in the NFL's safety test three years running. Anthony said, "The community is invested in the sport and hopefully we will get more kids out knowing that we are trying to keep them as safe as possible."
The lights won’t shine this Friday for the Wolverines, but putting safety above wins and losses may just be what allows Adam to finish his senior season, which includes his final homecoming game on October 25. Anthony said, "You just need to persevere with the amount of kids you have. Kleinmeyer said, "I have all respect for these kids and it is GMG pride we have that we are giving our best, no matter what it takes."
GMG plans to make the switch to eight-man football beginning with the 2020 football season. Depending on the health of the team, they should know next Thursday if they can travel Friday to play BCLUW in Conrad.