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Benson Tech cancels season-opener over a shortage of eligible players

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Benson Tech High School’s football season-opener against Milwaukie was cancelled because half of Benson's players haven't completed their nine required practice sessions.

Parents say their kids are ready to play, but the principal says it's not safe.

“It's about getting out there and have the opportunity to play. They just want to play and have fun,” said Collette Carr, a mother of two Benson Tech High School football players.

Carr says her two boys were robbed of that opportunity. Her oldest, Dominic Wilson-Carr, is a junior and Donovan Wilson-Carr is a freshman. Both play varsity football for Benson, but their team won't be playing their season opener this week because several players are ineligible to take the field.

“They're upset. They feel like they're not getting a chance,” said Carr.

Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) requires players to have at least nine practices before they can compete. Only 12 of the 30 players on Benson Tech's roster were cleared as of Tuesday; the hope is six more players will join them on Friday.

“That's just not something I’m comfortable doing, hoping and praying that these six kids will go to all practices, don't miss nothing. Everything is going to be fine and that will give us 18, which to me is still too low,” said Principal Curtis Wilson Jr.

It all came down to safety, which was outlined by an email Principal Wilson sent to parents Tuesday night:

Parents/Guardians/Benson Tech Supporters

In conjunction with District officials it was decided today (Tuesday August 29th) that the Benson Tech Football Game vs Milwaukie High scheduled for Friday September 1st will be cancelled. Benson Tech coaches have been working diligently in getting our football numbers up over the last week since our football parent meeting and as of Tuesday (August 29th) we have 30 athletes who are on the roster. The major concern is that within these 30 athletes only 12 of them as of today (Tuesday August 29th) have met the minimum number of 9 practices as mandated by the OSAA in order to be eligible to play in the football game this coming Friday. Any student that comes out for football has to have at least 9 days of practice before he/she can suit up in an actual football game. There is hope that between now and end of Thursday's practice we would potentially be able to get another 6 kids completing the minimum number of 9 practices and thus be able to bring our numbers to 18 students cleared to play in Friday's football game. The concern of pinning our hopes on having 12-18 students cleared and available for a varsity football game by this coming Friday is something that I believe is not prudent in regards to our students safety and well-being as it pertains to the sport of football. In meeting with district officials today the concern for the safety of our students, coupled with the potential low number of students actually available for this first football game made the decision paramount that we cannot move forward with playing a varsity football game at Milwaukie High this coming Friday.

The hope is that this will give the Benson Tech football program another week to get more students out for the sport of football as students return to school on Wednesday and hopefully allow the other students on the roster that make up the total number of 30 kids a chance to complete their required number of 9 practices as we look forward to week 2 playing against Parkrose High. I know that this is something that parents, coaches, students and football athletes did not want to hear but it's vital for the safety of our football athletes that we have more than 12-18 kids suited up for a varsity football game.

I wholeheartedly support our coaches and football players and I am hopeful that we will have a higher number of football players cleared along with the required number of practices completed in time for the Parkrose football game on Friday Sept. 8th.

Thank You,
Principal Wilson

However, Carr says players who show up to practices shouldn't be punished. She added that by canceling games, the school is taking away the student athletes' chances of having a future.

“Give us a chance. Don't keep on keeping us as the underdog. If you're not going to let us play, you don't really know what we can do,” Carr.

Principal Wilson says the team is ready to go, it just need more bodies to play.

“I will do everything thing in our power to keep athletics going at Benson, starting with football,” said Principal Wilson.

One of the main concerns Carr and other parents had with Benson athletics was the league strength. Benson got pulled out of the more competitive Portland Interscholastic League(PIL)two years ago. Principal Wilson says he’s trying to get the football team back into the PIL.

Principal Wilson says he’s confident the football team will have enough players to go against Parkrose High School next Friday.

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