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South Salt Lake Journal

Cottonwood High won’t play for championship, but for fun next season

Jan 29, 2020 01:46PM ● By Julie Slama

The Colts huddle during a game against Brighton High in which they lost 56-0. Cottonwood lost 10 players to injuries after its first game of the season. With dwindling numbers, the school will play independently this fall, outside of the UHSAA. (City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Cottonwood High scored 13 points in one game — in a loss to West High. Those were the only points the 0-10 Colts earned on the football field all season. After losing every varsity, JV and freshman football game this season, Cottonwood High elected not to play in the first round state playoffs. 

Administrators also began talks in November to seek playing independently — a move that was granted almost immediately Jan. 15 by the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA). 

“It isn’t about the cost of the program,” Principal Terri Roylance said. “It’s a safety factor for us. We’ve had as few as 30 athletes on the field, playing both sides of the ball, many of them after playing freshman and JV games, then they go up against 90 players on the opposing team. We knew we needed to step back, build our numbers and play teams closer to our size.” 

She said that this past fall, a freshman, who played JV and varsity all season, watched his sister play volleyball, with ice wrapped around his knee. 

“There’s no way he could give 100% week after week, but without numbers, he felt he couldn’t take a week off,” Roylance said, adding that there hasn’t been enough players to support all three school teams for the past three seasons.

Roylance said that numbers have dwindled for Cottonwood as participation in the football feeder league has diminished. The school’s changing population also contributes to the change as it pulls students from several communities, including a large number of refugees, so participation may be limited as students need to ride busses back to their homes, where many take care of younger siblings. Many students also have afterschool jobs to contribute financially to their families, she said.

Since 2015, the team has only won a total of four games. Just seasons earlier, in 2010 and 2011, they were ranked in the top 10 in the state and in 2008, Cottonwood was having the lopsided wins over their opponents as they played in the state finals.

This coming season, there will be no chance to even compete for a state championship. However, Cottonwood administrators say they will re-evaluate playing UHSAA in the fall 2021 after next season.

Roylance added the decision was made to seek independence after talking to the school community council, football coach and department. Since being granted independence, she has “not heard one negative complaint from parents.” 

Cottonwood wasn’t the only school that was granted independence. Timpanogos and Payson high schools also will not be playing UHSAA ball and Judge Memorial Catholic High School also sought independence earlier. All of those teams are in Cottonwood’s upcoming season schedule. 

“We are putting aside funding for transportation, but it’s important that we do this so we can rebuild our program, with emphasis on safety, enthusiasm and having fun competing,” Roylance said.