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Oxbow Forfeits Football Game, Citing Low Numbers



Valley News Sports Editor
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bradford, Vt. — Oxbow High became the third VPA Division III football program to cancel a game due to low numbers this week when officials decided to forfeit Saturday’s home date with Poultney.

Oxbow athletic director Derek Cipriano said on Wednesday evening that the school chose to forfeit following Tuesday’s practice. The Olympians started the season with a roster of 19, dropping to 17 with midseason injuries. Cipriano said the squad was down to 14 healthy bodies after injuries sustained in Friday night’s 40-24 loss at Springfield, and that was too few for Oxbow’s comfort.

Cipriano said the O’s (1-5) would finish out the season, beginning with their Oct. 20 home game against Missisquoi.

“(We decided) after a couple of days to practice to see if the bumps and bruises healed and how some kids were progressing with head injuries suffered over the last few weeks,” Cipriano said in a phone interview. “It’s just not safe for kids to participate this week.”

Oxbow, Missisquoi and Mount St. Joseph all have had roster issues this season.

Missisquoi, a second-year varsity squad, forfeited a Sept. 15 game to Mill River because of too few healthy players; the Thunderbirds (0-6) have played every game since. The Mounties played their first four contests, going 1-3 with a win over the T-birds, but low numbers forced the Rutland school to cancel the rest of its schedule two weeks ago. All remaining schools on MSJ’s slate — including Windsor last week and Woodstock this week — received credit for a forfeit win.

MSJ’s shutdown means all eight remaining D-III teams will make the postseason, and that gives Oxbow at least two games to play.

“We wanted to avoid this at all costs, and things were looking good for a long time,” Cipriano said. “I think we’ve had a lot of growth this year, but this decision was the best decision to continue that growth, for the programs to continue and for us to not suffer any severe injuries.

“Overall, you can see all program numbers are down in football,” the first-year Oxbow AD added. “You’ve seen two of the biggest schools in Vermont, Burlington and South Burlington, having to combine, and with some of the smaller programs and the decline in population in Vermont, this was kind of an inevitable situation. With a new alignment coming in the VIFL, it will be important to think of what’s in the best interest of the kids to sustain football in Vermont.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.