MORTON, Texas- As first reported by Mike Graham of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the University Interscholastic League on Wednesday accepted a request by the Morton Independent School District to forfeit all district 3-2A DII games, moving the remainder of the 2017 season into an outlaw six-man schedule.
Morton already had low enrollment numbers to begin the school year, so there was already talk of dropping down to six-man in the next biennial realignment, according to head coach Shean Abston. However injuries and other circumstances dropped the roster number down even further, and left the Indians with not enough healthy players to field an 11-man team.
Abston attended a district meeting on Monday to determine the best course of action.
According to the coach, it was recommended the Indians forfeit the remaining schedule in preparation of the potential drop in classification next season, but was unsure if this was allowed under the UIL constitution. Section 1208, subsection e (1) of the constitution does indeed state that “Schools shall not forfeit any district games in order to play non-district games,” and would be subject to penalty if caught in violation, however Morton’s request was accepted due to the circumstances.
Abston is still in the process of filling in now empty weeks with area six-man schools. What was to be the Indians last home game against Smyer is now currently slated to be a neutral site contest against Lueders-Avoca, possibly in Hermleigh. The coach also stated efforts to reach out to other schools in L-A’s district, namely Rule, and had also mentioned Ackerly Sands as a possible opponent in the regular season finale. As of publishing time, Morton is not scheduled to play a game this Friday.
“Some of the kids had a little apprehension; they’ve played 11-man pretty much their whole life,” said Abston. “There was uncertainty about if they’d like six-man, or how it would benefit them. But as we got to practicing, they started to see just how fun it is.”
The news was also met with mixed reactions in the Morton community.
“It’s a mixture. There’s some that know we’ve always been an 11-man team, but there’s others that see how beneficial it is for the kids.”
Abston also noted the intriguing possibility of the birth of a new rivalry with fellow Cochran County school Whiteface, which has been a six-man program since 2005. Whiteface currently resides in 2-1A DI along with Anton, Hart and Nazareth, but the coach notes this may not necessarily be their exact district placement if they do drop a classification next season.
“We’re thinking Whiteface for sure,” he said. “Anton may be going down to Division II, and Hart may be as well. We may go with New Home coming up, Ropes and guys like that to the south.”
Morton endured a rough non-district schedule, sitting at an 0-5 record before the news. The Indians were scheduled to open district play this Friday on the road against Springlake-Earth.
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