Darrington will play 8-man football next season

The school decided to make the move for the next two seasons due to low participation numbers.

DARRINGTON — Due to low participation numbers, the Darrington High School football team is moving down to the eight-man level for the next two seasons.

Darrington, one of the smallest Class 2B schools in the state, forfeited seven scheduled 11-man games over the past two years due to low numbers. The Loggers had to suspend each of their past two seasons with three games to play.

By moving to eight-man football, Darrington hopes to eliminate the forfeits.

Class 1B schools play eight-man football, while all other classifications play the 11-man game.

“There’s a greater value in the kids being able to play a full season, than trying to play it at a certain level,” said Darrington coach Dr. Buck Marsh, who will enter his third season at the helm this fall and is also the Loggers’ athletic director and the school district’s superintendent.

The Loggers started each of the past two seasons with 20 or fewer players on the roster. But Marsh said injuries and other factors dwindled his team to 12 active players or less by the end of each season, forcing Darrington to forfeit its final three games in 2016 and four of its final five games in 2017.

During the week prior to one of last season’s forfeits, the Loggers had just nine active players participating in practice.

“Over the course of the season, with attrition (and) a couple of kids moving away, we’ve gotten to the point where … we can no longer play the varsity schedule,” Marsh said. “The majority of my players play at least 80 or 90 percent of the snaps in a game, really (compounding) the issue of attrition and minor injuries that prevent kids from being able to suit up.

“At that point, it becomes a safety issue,” he added. “It’s really tough to start (an 11-man) game knowing that you have 11 or 12 players. You really want to have a sufficient number of players (so) that everybody can have a break during the game and you can rotate players in and out.”

Marsh said Darrington will play eight-man football for the remaining two seasons of the state’s current four-year classification cycle, which runs through the 2019-20 school year.

He said the Loggers plan to play a full nine-game slate of eight-man football this season, including two games apiece against Lummi, Naselle and perennial power Neah Bay.

Because Darrington is opting down a classification for football, the Loggers currently won’t be eligible for postseason play. But Marsh said there is a proposed Washington Interscholastic Activities Association amendment that would allow opt-down football teams like Darrington to compete in the postseason beginning this fall.

“That definitely will have some ramifications for us,” said Marsh, who also is the school’s athletic director. “But at the same time, we’re not looking at this in terms of success in the playoffs or success on the field in terms of the score.

“We’re looking at it just in terms of measuring that success by being able to complete a season and being able to really take that program-wide approach to … being able to rotate athletes in and out of the game.”

The Darrington School Board approved the decision to play eight-man football during its Feb. 27 meeting.

The decision came after Darrington’s appeal to move down to 1B for all sports was denied by the WIAA in January. Marsh said Darrington has experienced a slight enrollment decline in recent years that has impacted most sports.

At the time of the most recent statewide reclassification in January 2016, Darrington was the ninth-smallest 2B school in the state with 96.63 students, based on average enrollment figures for grades 9-11. Darrington had just 15.2 more students than Neah Bay, the state’s largest 1B school.

The Darrington football team’s lone win last season came in an eight-man game against Evergreen Lutheran.

“We were able to play an eight-man game and see what the flow of that game was like,” Marsh said. “It really worked out well for us from the standpoint of it (taking) care of some of those issues. We were able to sub kids in and out … and not just put everybody out (there) because you have to fill every position.

“We’re committed to continue to have a program,” he added. “And we think the best way to continue to have a program — to keep football going at Darrington — is through eight-man.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

Everett Silvertips' Jake Christiansen takes a shot on goal during the game on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Silvertips release abbreviated 24-game schedule

Everett will open its season against Spokane at Angel of the Winds Arena on March 20.

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert passes the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Gonzaga’s Kispert finalist for Erving Award

The Edmonds native is among the final five to be the top small forward in college basketball.

A law enforcement officer looks over a damaged vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Woods suffered leg injuries in the one-car accident and was undergoing surgery, authorities and his manager said. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
L.A. sheriff calls Tiger Woods crash ‘purely an accident’

Deputies saw no evidence the golf star was impaired by drugs or alcohol after Tuesday’s rollover.

Quarterback Tanner Jellison runs a play with running backs Jay Roughton, left, and Trayce Hanks as the Lake Stevens High School football team conducts its first practice, marking the first day of practice for fall sports in the Wesco division, on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Wesco high school sports teams’ long layoff finally ends

For the first time in more than 450 days, Wesco fall athletes gathered for official practices.

Arizona Diamondbacks' Travis Snider singles against the Texas Rangers during a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Community sports roundup: Ex-Jackson star Snider joins Braves

Plus, a former Monroe QB is excelling at Whitworth, the Silvertips sign a former T-bird, and more.

High School football teams across Snohomish County are closing in on their first game in over a year. (Herald file photos)
Prep football: Key games and the area’s complete schedule

The first H.S. football game in the county in over a year is set to take place this coming Friday.

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto talks about the suspension of second baseman Robinson Cano, before the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Seattle. Cano was suspended 80 games for violating baseball's joint drug agreement. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Mariners doing damage control with players after Mather’s video

GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais say the players involved have every right to be upset.

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2018, file photo, Seattle Mariners president Kevin Mather stands on the field before the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Seattle. Mather apologized late Sunday night, Feb. 21, 2021, for comments made during a recent online event where he expressed opinions about organizational strategy, personnel moves and club finances. Mather’s comments came in a speech to the Bellevue, Wash., Breakfast Rotary Club on Feb. 5 and were posted online over the weekend. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Mariners CEO Mather resigns after derogatory remarks surface

He made insensitive comments about players from Japan and the Dominican Republic for their English skills.

Most Read