Trinity Lutheran High School officials made a tough decision this past week to not offer football in the fall.
Some players either moved to another school or decided not to play in the upcoming season, so that left about 15 players, athletics director Aaron Rudzinski said.
“We can’t play a season with that many kids, so we kind of found ourselves in a tough situation. When you’re in a small school like this, you need every kid,” he said.
Rudzinski said school leaders discussed options for the past couple of weeks and were holding off, hoping they could get a team together and salvage the season.
“When we started the program (in 2012), enrollment was trending up,” he said. “It has been trending up for the last four or five years, probably longer than that. We’ve kind of plateaued a little bit in that way, so I think that maybe had a little bit to do with it.”
The situation reached a point where they had to make a decision so they could inform other schools on the 2015 schedule if they weren’t going to have a team. The Cougars were scheduled to play four Class A schools, four Class 2A schools and one team from Louisville, Kentucky.
Rudzinski said Trinity students still wanting to play football will be able to do so with the Indianapolis Crimson Knights, a home-school team on that city’s southside. That’s a team Trinity has played the past couple of seasons, and it accepts students who go to a school that doesn’t offer football.
That program, however, isn’t a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, so it’s not eligible to play in the state tournament. But the Crimson Knights play mostly IHSAA schools during the regular season.
“Their coach and our coach are really close, so we asked them if they would be willing to take on our kids that would like to still play at least for the year,” Rudzinski said.
He added Trinity will be without a program for at least two years.
“This is really a two-year plan here because we hope to at some point get back to where we were,” he said, noting the team had around 25 players for the 2014 season. “No one is quitting on the program. It’s just where we are right now with numbers.”
Rudzinski said the incoming freshman class is small, while the school had its largest freshman class two years ago.
The focus now will be on offering a youth program for Trinity’s feeder schools. They would use Trinity’s field, which has been used as a combined football and track and field complex since 2012.
“I think the current plan is to put a lot of effort into the youth program to try to rebuild, re-establish teams,” Rudzinski said. “We plan to continue working with middle schools to try to have a youth program.”
The Cougars’ coach all along has been Anthony Levy. In 2012, the team played five varsity and three junior varsity games, going 2-3 and 3-0, respectively. The next year, it was eligible to play in the postseason and finished 4-6. In 2014, it went 4-5.
Levy also has taught weight classes at the school, but Rudzinski said no decision has been made on whether Levy will continue in that role.
Also, it was announced in March that lights were going to be installed at the field for the fall season. For the past few years, the school has rented temporary mobile lights for home games.
Rudzinski said the four poles, which include 56 lights, are at the school ready to be placed.
“I don’t know exactly 100 percent for sure what’s going to happen with that, but I believe we’re still going to put them up,” he said.
The plan also was to build a facility to house a press box and concession stand, but that is on the back burner for now, Rudzinski said. Money had been raised both for the lights and the press box/concession stand, but he said the lights were the top priority.