"When you play baseball or softball where you've got 35 games to play, losing that one game is not a big issue,” said Jody Flynn, Belvidere North Athletic Director. “But when you only have 9 games, that one game is over 10 percent of your season."
The Blue Thunder football team and the Harlem Huskies will each pick up a forfeit win as a result of Jefferson officials announcing the J-Hawks season is cancelled.
With interest in the J-Hawks varsity program waning, and seniors skipping practice, coaches and administrators decided against bringing up freshman and sophomores for the remaining two varsity games for “safety."
The result of the cancelation means that Harlem will improve to 6-2 and gets an automatic bid to the IHSA playoffs, but the Huskies get the weekend off before wrapping up with Guilford.
Belvidere North (4-3) gets a fifth win next week, but hosts top-ranked Boylan this weekend. The loss of a home game next week means a loss of nearly $10,000 in ticket revenue and another $5,000 in concessions. A painful blow to a school district already fighting major budget issues.
"It's very frustrating, but we'll make due,” said Corinne Boatman, Director of the Blue Thunder Boosters. “We hope for a good week this week.”
“By far, football is our biggest money maker for concessions,” says Flynn. “It affects us in more than one way."
"Our kids really like playing in front of their fans and in front of their friends,” said Blue Thunder Head Coach Jeff Beck, who’s squad is a perfect 3-0 at Milt Brown Stadium this season. “To not have that opportunity, I think no matter what you tell them they're still going to be disappointed."
As for Harlem, instead of putting in the game plan for Jefferson, offensive players were putting in time in the weight room.
"We'd rather earn the victory,” said Jim Morrow, Harlem Head Coach. “We'd rather have the memories and the sense of accomplishment and preparation leading up to it rather than to having it being handed to us."
"It's not an easy decision to make and I'm glad I didn't have to make it."