Monday, March 09, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Falcon football forsaken

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski High School will not field a football team for the 2015 season, and NPHS students who want to play next year will be allowed to do so at Jacksonville High, without having to transfer.

A letter dated March 6 from NPHS principal Jeff Senn, to parents, states that North Pulaski currently has only 17 players participating in football offseason, which is not enough to compete at the Class 5A level.

Pulaski County Special School district athletic director Danny Ebbs said so few players is not feasible.

“You look and if you average three or four players get hurt per week, you wouldn’t be able to field a team by week three,” said Ebbs. “This is not a situation where you can really afford to wait until the last minute to make that decision. It impacts 10 other schools.

“This gives those other teams time to make other arrangements and gives those kids who are good players and want to play, a chance to go somewhere and play.”

Jacksonville and North Pulaski recently won the right to break free from PCSSD and form the new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District. Rules allow students who attend schools in the process of consolidating, to participate in extracurricular activities at the other school, if the one they attend does not offer it.

Arkansas High School Activities Association executive director Lance Taylor is aware of the decision by North Pulaski and the PCSSD, and agrees there are no violations.

“This law applies to any extracurricular activity,” said Taylor. “If Jacksonville has, say, forensics, and North Pulaski doesn’t, those kids can compete in forensics at Jacksonville. And vice versa. If North Pulaski offers something Jacksonville doesn’t, the Jacksonville students can participate at North Pulaski.”

This consolidation rule also applies to students who attend Jacksonville or NP, but do not live in that school’s zone, as long as they have been in that school for 365 days.

“It’s the 365-day rule,” Ebbs said. “If a student has been at North Pulaski for 365 days but does not live in North Pulaski’s zone, that student is considered a North Pulaski student and can go play for Jacksonville. The only way he could go back and play for the school he’s zoned for, is if he transferred from North Pulaski to that school.”

The letter from Senn urged players interested in playing football to begin going to Jacksonville’s offseason program as soon as possible.

“We will provide transportation for them,” said Senn.

The North Pulaski players will add to an already booming Jacksonville football offseason. JHS athletic director Jerry Wilson says 70 athletes are currently taking part in football workouts, and says the NP players will be welcomed and treated like family.

“Absolutely,” said Wilson. “We’ve been working for a long time to bring these two schools together so we can have one hometown school. That’s what it’s about, and the North Pulaski kids are going to be a big part of that.”