Banged up SLV cancels SCCAL football game against Aptos – Santa Cruz Sentinel
San Lorenzo Valley High football coach Dave Poetzinger has canceled the Cougars’ game scheduled at Aptos this Friday night due to an insufficient number of healthy players.
The Cougars entered Saturday’s 28-0 loss to rival Scotts Valley with just 17 healthy players and exited with 10. Seven players endured a medley of ailments, ranging from rib and shoulder injuries to groin, rib and wrist injuries.
“I’m looking at 10 healthy bodies,” Poetzinger said of the attrition. “Did that influence my decision? Yes, it did. Right now I have 13 healthy players. It’s hard to play a football game with 13 healthy players.”
Poetzinger acknowledged that his players, even injured, would run through a wall to play the game they love, but he said he’d rather they not. Poetzinger, who is in his final season of coaching, said he’d be acting selfishly if he allowed his short-handed squad to play this week with little to no qualified replacements.
“I have to be the adult in the room and take care of the kids’ health and safety,” he said.
The Aptos-SLV contest was a crossover contest in the five-game Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League season, which was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aptos (2-0) competes in the A Division and SLV (1-1) in the B Division. Both are five-team divisions.
SLV intends to get healthy and compete in its final two B Division games, against Pajaro Valley (1-1) and Harbor (0-2).
“I feel bad for the seniors on both teams,” Mariners coach Randy Blankenship said. “They only get to play five games this year and one gets canceled. It is what it is. We’ll try to find another opponent.”
Aptos, which has outscored opponents 98-19 through two games this season, has a roster of 42 players.
Poetzinger said he spoke with SLV Principal Jeff Calden and Athletics Director Chris Coulson before reaching out to Blankenship on Sunday morning with grim news. The Cougars’ coach informed his players Sunday evening.
“Asking 13 players to play 48 minutes, going from offense to defense to special teams, is putting players at risk,” Poetzinger said. “I wouldn’t ask them to do that against any team, let alone one of the best teams in the county, who can roll out four waves.”
A similar situation took place in 2019, when shorthanded St. Francis, 1-1 at the time, canceled its Sept. 13 game against Watsonville so that it could get healthy. The Sharks did and finished with a 7-3 record.
Blankenship spent Sunday afternoon attempting to line up another opponent for his team. He hasn’t yet told his players because he’s holding out hope that another team also wants to get a game in. He
“We’ll play anybody, anywhere,” said Blankenship, noting that he reached out to coaches at Palma, Hollister, Salinas, and Serra and has the game opening posted on the Golden State Football Coaches Community webpage.
Blankenship said his team would even play on one day’s notice.
“If we found out Thursday at 3:30 p.m., we’d play them Friday,” he said. “It’s not about the wins and losses, it’s about getting these guys an opportunity.”
Blankenship credited Soquel coach Dwight Lowery, whose varsity squad is also battling low numbers, for playing last Friday. Lowery pulled up several freshmen to his varsity squad, in addition to the ones he’d already promoted, to get the game in.
Pulling up freshmen to varsity is essentially unheard of at SLV. The Cougars have called up one or two freshmen players over the past three decades.
“It’s not like anyone is happy about this,” Poetzinger said.
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Watsonville at Soquel
MVC at Santa Cruz
St. Francis at Harbor
SLV at Aptos, canceled
Saturday, 2 p.m.
Scotts Valley at Pajaro Valley