Eagle Grove season in limbo

EAGLE GROVE — Paul Hansch didn’t want it to come to this for his Eagle Grove football team.

But after watching as five players went down last Friday due to injury, Hansch and the school had no other choice.

The decision was made on Monday to forfeit this coming Friday’s game with Pocahontas Area, with plans for the remainder of the 2018 season to be decided on a “week-by-week basis,” he said.

By rule, teams cannot forfeit their entire season. Instead, they must make the call each week.

“At this point, we are not playing Friday night,” Hansch said. “After Friday, we will see what happens. We’ve got 30 kids on our varsity roster, but the most we have dressed is 29.

“We have 13 freshmen out and a nice group of middle schoolers, so we will have numbers (in the future). But we have five seniors right now and most of our kids at the skill positions are hurt.”

Hansch worked around several injuries through the first two weeks of the season, but growing concern of player safety made for the decision.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Hansch said. “Last week against South Hardin, we were winning going into the second quarter before we had kids get hurt. We had five freshmen and three sophomores out on the field at one time and I just don’t see what that does for you.

“Our coaching staff is concerned about the safety of our players. Some of our freshmen are 120 pounds and I don’t want to put them out there.”

Eagle Grove first fielded a varsity football team in 1949 and has posted an overall record of 188-396. Last year, they went 6-3, recording the first winning season since 2010.

From 2006-11, the Eagles finished .500 or above each year, including nine wins in 2009.

“We will meet with parents and the kids Tuesday and talk about the future of the program,” Hansch said. “Last year, we had 13 really good seniors and only one significant injury all season. This year, it has been the polar opposite, which has made it tough.”

Hansch, who was the head coach at Clarion-Goldfield/Dows for 21 seasons, is the 22nd coach all-time at Eagle Grove. He has won 84 games in his career.

“I’ve been coaching since 1994 and this is not about just losing games,” he said. “I was 0-9 one time at Clarion in 1999, but that was different. That was just not a good football team and it wasn’t about the safety of the kids.

“This (decision) is all about the safety of the kids.”

Eagle Grove still has games set with district foes Madrid, Ogden, fourth-ranked (Class 1A) South Central Calhoun and South Hamilton.

Pocahontas Area was to host Eagle Grove for homecoming on Friday night. Instead, the Indians will still hold their planned coronation, pep assembly and parade, along with a scrimmage/practice beginning at 6 p.m. that will include introduction of the homecoming court and the band.

“Obviously our kids are disappointed they aren’t going to have a homecoming game, but at the same time, we are all very understanding of the current situation that Eagle Grove is faced with,” PAC athletic director Brandon Ruffridge said. “We’ll still have our normal week of activities and a home volleyball triangular Thursday night, so hopefully we’ll pack the gym for that and the kids can cut loose a bit supporting our volleyball team.

“We’re trying to keep Friday as normal as possible, but it’s really odd not having a game.

“Regardless, our guys are going to keep pushing forward. I’m sure our entire football community will agree with me in saying that we wish Eagle Grove and their team a quick recovery and hope they get back to where they want to be sooner rather than later.”

That will last for roughly 75 minutes, with the school dance to take place that night at 8 p.m. instead of Saturday.