The list of schools in Southwest La. not playing football this season doubled on Monday.

Sam Houston and Washington-Marion announced the difficult decision just under two weeks before they were to start the 2020 season.

The two schools join LaGrange and Elton on the opt-out list.

Sam Houston was coming off a pair of back-to-back 8-3 seasons.

“Without question, the hardest part of my job as a head coach is making tough decisions, especially those that affect other people,” Sam Houston head coach Chad Paulk said. “Having to make the decision whether to play a football season after a major disaster is not something taught at any coaching clinic... This decision did not come easily and has nothing to do with the inability to win games.”

Washington-Marion was looking to bounce back from a 1-9 season.

“Due to insurmountable events, we are officially canceling our fall 2020 football season,” W-M principal Ronnie Harvey said. “I, as principal, assume full responsibility for our decision.

“Although issues related to a global pandemic and the devastation of Hurricane Laura have impacted our year’s start, we are not placing the blame on those entities. We will utilize this time to focus on academic excellence, better care for our student-athletes and strengthen our community relations.”

The Charging Indians are also looking for a new head coach to revitalize the program.

“During the time of rebuilding, we will also seek a new head football coach that will passionately lead the rebuilding of our great Charging Indian football program in hopes of returning to a perennial powerhouse, while building better young men to serve our community and city,” Harvey said. “Again, we apologize and promise to return better than ever, as we continue to move Washington-Marion Magnet High School forward, onward and upward.”

Paulk sited extensive damage from Hurricane Laura, the strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana in 164 years, to the school and surrounding community, several players transferring to other schools and lack of practices since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Hurricane Laura has destroyed this community so significantly that many of our players and coaches are still without a home to live in four weeks after landfall,” Paulk said. “We have lost several players to transfer, only return five starters from 2019, and all three of our quarterbacks are currently playing at other schools.

“Knowing that the most logical decision is not always going to be the most popular, we have decided to put our football season on hold as we turn our attention to helping others in our town clean and rebuild.

“Playing with multiple inexperienced 14-15-year old kids in our 5A league every Friday would be a safety risk our coaches are not willing to take. Our kids have not touched a weight in six weeks or had an organized practice in 10 months due to COVID-19 restrictions and now Hurricane Laura. There is no possible way our young players can get ready to play a varsity football game in just two short weeks.”

While the Broncos will not play a varsity schedule, they will play a five-game junior varsity schedule that will start on Oct. 22.

“For those lake area schools that are fortunate enough to field a team, the Broncos wish you the best of luck moving forward,” Paulk said. “As for us, we will continue to make strides with a reduced subvarsity schedule and most importantly make even larger strides getting our community back to a sense of normalcy.”

Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera said Monday evening that no decision has been made yet for the Barbe Bucs football team.

Grand Lake’s season opener against Highland Baptist was canceled due to a COVID-19 issue at Highland Baptist according to a report by CrescentCitySports.com. On Monday, Hornet head coach Jeff Wainwright said that Grand Lake has found a replacement opponent and will play St. John-Plaquemine on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Jennings High School.

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