EAST FOOTBALL eyes major change

Wausau East football players could withdraw from conference play in the 2017 season and compete as an independent school, says Greg Harvey, athletic director for Wausau East High School.

The WIAA in August denied the Lumberjacks’ request to withdraw from the Valley Football Association-North Division and nixed plans to move the team into the Great Northern Conference. The request was made amid concerns over player safety at East, the smallest of the division’s teams. East players lost every game last year by at least a 30-point margin, in a season that saw a number of player injuries.

“When we’re playing with 30-35 players versus other teams with 80-85, every injury has a major impact on the team,” Harvey says. “And of course we are concerned about player safety.”

School officials met with parents this week to discuss potential options. Parents are largely in favor of withdrawing from the VFA-North, Harvey says. Voluntarily withdrawing from the conference and going independent would leave the team ineligible for playoffs for four years.

East High will choose that option only if other sports programs can remain in the same conference they now compete in. That’s something the school needs to iron out with the WIAA. “We just need to clean up a few details and make sure our other teams are not affected,” Harvey says.