Frustrated over football: Benson HS’s first game against Milwauk - KPTV - FOX 12

Frustrated over football: Benson HS’s first game against Milwaukie canceled

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It’s only the first day of school, but some people are heading back frustrated over football.

Players at Benson Polytechnic High School were just told Tuesday night their first game, set for Friday against Milwaukie, has been canceled.

Now, the coach and the district are at odds over the decision.

Coach Devarieous Sly-Clay told FOX 12 players have been practicing Monday through Saturday for the last two weeks to get ready for the game.

Right now, there are roughly 30 students on the roster but the issue is this: not all of them are eligible to play.

The governing body for high school athletics, the Oregon School Activities Association or OSAA, requires that players complete nine days of practice before the first game.

Sly-Clay said some of his players came in late and he expected 18 to be eligible for Friday’s match up. He contends that number would have been enough to play against Milwaukie and he believes the game shouldn’t have been canceled.

“It was kind of devastating when it all went down,” Sly-Clay said. “Practice had just ended (Tuesday) and I got a text saying to come upstairs for a meeting. That’s when [the cancellation] was kind of sprung on me. It had been business as usual earlier in the day.”

The decision was made by Benson HS Principal Curtis Wilson, Jr., with the backing of the Portland Public School district.

Wilson, Jr. told FOX 12 the decision was not made lightly – and should not have come as a surprise.

He held an emergency meeting with parents last week to be transparent about the fact that enrollment for the football team was on the low end and that it was a possibility the first game may need to be canceled. He said as of Tuesday, there were only 12 students eligible to play.

“The biggest thing is that we’re just talking about one game that we’re not ready for, not the season,” Wilson, Jr. said. “The whole objective is get past this week, continue to practice, get more kids cleared, and let’s get ready for this next game next week.”

Complicating matters, there was some initial confusion about the number of eligible players required.

The district and principal were under the impression OSAA required 25 eligible players for a varsity game, but a spokesperson for OSAA told FOX 12 that’s not the case. Players must complete nine days of practice, but it’s up to the district and school leaders to use their own discretion about the number of players they feel comfortable with in a given game.

“Even if that number wasn’t there, if there was no 25 needed to play in a football game, I would still question the numbers we have out there. Because as an athlete, as someone who knows sports, I want to be sure that our kids have every opportunity to be successful,” Wilson, Jr. said. “And I don’t believe that with 12-18 kids, and you need 11 out there offense and defense, that we’re going to be able to sustain being safe for three hours. Fatigue is going to set in, people are going to be tired, you’re not going to be as focused, and that’s when the injuries start to happen.”

“It’s tough because as a coach it’s not just your kids you care about, it’s the other kids, too, you want to give them an opportunity to compete and show what they’ve been working for too,” Sly-Clay said. “And it’s unfortunate that neither of us are going to get that chance this week.”

The one thing both the principal and coach agree on? As practices continue, this should be a non-issue in time for Benson’s second game. That’s set for a week from Friday against Parkrose.

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