After enthusiastically starting a program just three seasons ago, Ascension Christian has decided to drop football as a varsity sport.
The Gonzales-based school submitted a letter to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, stating its intention to drop football this week.
“My understanding from the letter is that they (Ascension Christian) don’t have the numbers to field a football team,” LHSAA assistant executive director B.J. Guzzardo said. “I believe Mr. (Kenny) Henderson (LHSAA Executive Director) received the letter yesterday.”
The Lions competed on the Class 1A level and are part of District 9-1A.
Even though the school is dropping football, Ascension Christian will remain in 9-1A for all other sports during the 2012-13 school year.
Ascension Christian will likely be either in Class B or C when the LHSAA reclassifies its schools for 2013-14 and 2014-15. The school could choose to add football again, but would have to sit out at least one additional varsity season in addition to 2012.
“The reality of this has hit me pretty hard,” Ascension Christian coach Brian Kinchen said. “I just had my birthday and to be 47 years old and to have to try and figure out what I’ll do next is hard.
“We graduated a good senior class last year, and I didn’t expect any issues. We had 38 kids signed up for spring practice. By the time we started (spring) practice, the number was down to 14.”
Ascension Christian first fielded a football team in 2009, just one year after the school had joined the LHSAA as a Class C member based on an enrollment of approximately 100 students. Kinchen said enrollment has increased since 2009.
In their first season, the Lions played three varsity games under then-coach Ross Holden. Kinchen, a former LSU and NFL player, has been the Ascension Christian coach for the past two years.
Ascension Christian’s move also impacts other teams in District 9-1A, all of whom now find themselves with an unanticipated open date for the 2012 season.
Guzzardo said teams deciding to officially drop football is unusual, but not unprecedented. St. Joseph’s-Plaucheville and Sicily Island were the most recent schools to drop football, Guzzardo said.
Ascension Christian had a 2-3 record in its first season with a varsity schedule in 2009. ACH was winless, finishing 0-10 in both 2010 and 2011.
St. Joseph’s, like Ascension Christian, was a Class C school that had added football. St. Joseph’s dropped the sport without playing a game.
Sicily Island had a long history of football in Class 1A but dropped the sport a few years before St. Joseph’s did, Guzzardo said.