Tarpons vow to play on
Program’s fate tied to players’ health
After having to forfeit its Week 6 high school football game due to a shortage of players, the South Cameron Tarpons will return to the field this week.
Head coach Darryl Lee confirmed Tuesday that the Tarpons will play Thursday at Merryville.
Lee said he expects to have no more than 14 players available after talking with players and parents Tuesday afternoon.
“The players and parents know what we are up against,” Lee said. “It is the South Cameron tradition. The kids that we have play hard every game. We are going to play. The kids want to play so that is what we are going to do. ”
Lee said South Cameron started the season with 22 players.
The Tarpons are 1-5 overall and 1-2 in District 4-1A after beating Hamilton Christian 41-26 in Week 4 to end a 13-game losing streak.
If the Tarpons are forced to forfeit a second game, it would not only mean the end of its season but a two-year ban from varsity football, according to Louisiana High School Athletic rules 6.7.3 and 126.96.36.199.
Lee said the decision came down to player safety.
“I know the kids want to play, but I am trying to use my better judgment on this,” he said. “If we have another kid or two get hurt, we will have to throw the towel in or finish the game with running time. The parents will have to trust me with their kids. I will take the heat for the whole deal. I will be the one to decide if we don’t have enough. It is just so close.”
Lee said he’s hoping the team can avoid further injuries and finish the season.
“They understand that the safety and well-being come first,” Lee said. “Hopefully we can dodge any injuries. That is going to be tough to do with our next four opponents with Merryville, Elton, Oberlin and Grand Lake. They understand that we might only have two or three subs on the board. They understand that and they want to play.”
South Cameron might get two more players back after this week, Lee said.
“There is one more kid that will become eligible next week to get us to 15 and maybe one more, so we may have 15 or 16 the rest of the season,” he said.
With so few players Lee said the Tarpons have struggled to conduct an effective practice.
Playing football in Cameron Parish has not always been easy. Hackberry had a football team from 1955 to 1972, but folded due to lack of players and interest.
Grand Lake ended its program in 1960 but revived it in 2013.
South Cameron has been struggling to fills its roster since Hurricanes Rita (2005) and Ike (2008) devastated Cameron Parish.
“Some of the people knew years ago after the second hurricane, that it was not good, that numbers were steadily going down,” Lee said.
South Cameron head coach
South Cameron’s Kolby Pugh tries to bring down Hamilton Christian’s Reggie Jackson during their game at South Cameron High School in Cameron, La., Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)