The community of Culver is rallying to stand up for one of its sports programs. It centers around the junior varsity football team and the fact that the season’s almost and they have yet to play a game.
“At one point, I think that everyone that has played who is a freshman right now has thought about quitting at some point in the season because we are not getting any playing time, and we feel like we should because it is football and we need to play,” said Culver freshman Joel Taylor.
A combination of moving to nine-man football, transportation issues, officials shortages and a lack of players from opposing teams have kept the Bulldogs off the field.
“To go nine-man and then not to have a J.V. game when you have 30-plus people on your roster is frustrating,” said head Culver football coach Brian Silbernagel. “What did we accomplish by going nine-man in Culver? Really, nothing.”
The coaches aren’t the only ones upset about the non-existent season for these young athletes.
After a last-minute cancellation by Lowell’s J.V. team Friday, Culver players had enough. They protested by refusing to travel with the varsity team and stayed home.
“To show the coaches that we are kind of frustrated,” said Culver freshman Ian Keeton.
“We are still a valuable part of the team, but when we don’t get treated like everyone else, then it hurts us too,” said Culver freshman Zach Vollmer.
“I thought it put a pretty good outlook because now the coaches are paying more attention to us,” said Culver freshman Dalton Taylor.
It didn’t just get the attention of the coaching staff but the whole community, including the Culver boosters club and school board.
“Start sending letters to OSAA and come together and tell them this is what is happening here with our J.V. program,” said Culver booster club and school board chair Scott Leeper. “If it continues like this, why would a kid want to play his freshman year? It’s going to destroy the program.”
Culver Athletic Director Alex Carlson says scheduling make-up games isn’t so easy anymore, with the closest nine-man team more than two hours away and all the Bend and Redmond schools in the same league playing each other.
Now he’s turning to the Oregon School Activities Association for help.
“We kind of want some answers from the OSAA to say hey, what are those options, what should we be doing, how do you think we should go through this landscape and let them know how it is affecting our community and our program and to say if something doesn’t change we are going to lose young people and we can’t have that happen,” said Carlson.
OSAA Executive Director Peter Webber told Central Oregon Daily News that OSAA is not in charge of scheduling — districts are — and the association was not aware of the Culver J.V football situation nor has it heard from the school to this point.
Culver hopes to play against Corbett this week, but nothing is official yet.
You can watch Carlson’s full interview here: