Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Garth Meyer
Gazette Colomnist 

Gar/Pal pauses football; rest of Southeast 1B appears stable


June 6, 2019

No football team will play this fall for Garfield/Palouse High School.

After seven senior players graduated last Saturday, the number of interested kids was too low to field an eight-man team. Scott Thompson, athletic director, and other school officials made the decision not to have a team in 2019.

The Garfield, Palouse and Pullman school boards are now in the process of approving a combine to allow Garfield/Palouse students to go out for football at Pullman High School.

Combines may be set for up to four-year cycles, through the WIAA, and may be dissolved at any time.

Is this the first time Garfield, Palouse or Gar/Pal (which joined for sports in 1981) will not have a football team?

“I would say it was definitely a first,” said Thompson.

The plan to have no team is just for this year, with 2020 to be determined.

“It will be a year-to-year thing for us,” Thompson said.

The Vikings’ roster last year had 16 players to start.

“Basically, 50 percent of the roster were seniors,” said Thompson.

As for going to Pullman, one Gar/Pal player, junior Jacob Anderson, who played on the offensive and defensive lines last year for the Vikings, will join the 2A Greyhounds.

The Garfield/Palouse senior class this fall will have 14 students, a lower number than recent years, with larger classes coming. Whether football players are included in the new classes is another question.

The Pullman arrangement may last or stop and start again when interest is low.

“We just want to make it so the one or two or five kids that want to play football have a place to go,” Thompson said.



Elsewhere in the Southeast 1B league, schools continue to field teams, with a new arrangement to bring in more non-league games starting this fall. Last year, each Southeast 1B team played each other twice.

A meeting was held earlier in May about 1B football with District 5/6/7/9.

From this, a change was made to schedule games for Southeast 1B teams against Lyle/Wishram and Yakama Tribal.

Other non-league games have been set too, such as St. John/Endicott/LaCrosse playing DeSales.

“The biggest thing is to fill our schedule,” said Ken Gering, athletic director at St. John/Endicott High School. “It gets our kids out there playing ball. I’m happy with it.”

For fall 2019, some league teams will still play each other twice, such as Colton-SJEL – but it will be limited.


Touchet had 20 kids at its football interest meeting this spring. Pomeroy had 26 at its meeting after not fielding a varsity team two years ago, for the first time in school history.

“I think right now is an anomaly for Gar/Pal. Right now we’re kind of in a downturn for some of our schools,” said Todette McGreevy, co-athletic director at Pomeroy.

She mentioned DeSales possibly coming down from playing up in 2B for football. New four-year WIAA allocations are being made now for 2021-25.

Touchet has struggled to field football teams in recent years but now has bigger classes coming up in eighth, ninth and tenth grades.

So what is the number that coaches and athletic directors look for to have a 1B team?

“Sixteen is optimal,” said Gering. “You can start out a season with 16 and feel comfortable, in my mind, but there is no guideline.”

Colton had 16 sign up for next fall. They will play as usual, except with a new coach after the resignation of Clark Vining after 13 years. His son Luke graduated this year.

Gar/Pal has not had a junior high football program for two years.

Has fear of concussions and long-term health played a role in this?

“I just think it’s a societal change,” said Thompson, noting lesser numbers in all Gar/Pal sports. “But football’s under a microscope. There’s more concern surrounding the game. That’s definitely had an impact.”


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