Round Mountain High School has canceled its football season because of a lack of players, Jake Topholm, the school’s athletic director, announced Wednesday.
“I had to make a very difficult decision today, and that decision was to cancel the high school football season for the 2019 season,” Topholm posted on the Round Mountain Football page on Facebook. “The decision was based on the number of players and safety for our kids.”
The Knights opened the season with 11 players on the roster, but four players were injured in the opener against Carlin, forcing a forfeit. Games against Wells and Beatty were canceled, but there was some hope players could return in time for the league opener Oct. 5 at Coleville.
On Aug. 30, the date the Wells game was supposed to be played, a message asking for students interested in playing football was posted on Facebook. Assistant coach Rickey Stewart said they had hoped injured players would be able to play and some new players might be recruited, but at a school that is tiny even by Class 1A standards, that was an unlikely prospect.
Even so, Topholm said that it wasn’t an easy call to make.
“Hardest decision I have had to make in 19 years,” he said. “It was not an easy decision to make. I went back and forth with it for over a week.”
Round Mountain is among the smallest schools to field athletic teams in Nevada. According to the Department of Education, last year the school counted just 66 students in grades 9-12 and 64 in 2017-18, 73 in 2016-17 and 79 in 2015-16. By comparison, Beatty counted 105 and Tonopah totaled 120 last year.
“We need at least 12 and could not get there,” Topholm said. “We tried to play the Carlin game with 11 and did not even make it to halftime.”
Despite the small enrollment, Topholm said Round Mountain has been able to field teams in football, girls volleyball, girls golf, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball without a numbers crisis.
“We have not had this problem before,” he said. “We have always made it through all seasons since I have been in Round Mountain.”
The Knights have had just one forfeit since 2004, and a 5-4 record in 2014 was their last winning season.
And while the disappointment runs deep, especially for the four seniors on the roster, the team’s Facebook page included an upbeat note.
“Sadly the high school season is over, but I do ask that you all support our volleyball, golf and junior high football teams that still have seasons to play. Thank you all for supporting us, and go Knights!”