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Prospect laments dismantling of football season

Prep Notebook

Don Alexander has a knot in his stomach following the dismantling of the Prospect High football team last week.

The Cougars have a proud history ' two state championships, three state runner-up showings and a Class 1A-record 15 appearances in the playoffs.

One of their alumnus, Andy Maurer, played in the NFL for nine seasons and appeared in two Super Bowls.

But a shortage of players compelled coach Mike Gordon and Alexander ' the school's former coach and current superintendent and principal ' to shut down the program prior to its game against North Lake last Friday.

— The Cougars will also forfeit their matchup against Butte Falls this Friday.

It certainly leaves me with an empty feeling, Alexander says. Football used to be such a big part of this school and this community.

We'd go to away games and have just as many, if not more, fans than the home team. There was a lot of support.

Alexander, who coached the Cougars from 1977-88 and again in '97 and '98, produced nine playoff teams during his 13 years and two stints with the program.

His 1982 squad tied Cove for the eight-man state championship.

But while the school's enrollment has stayed steady at about 70 students, turnout for the football team has declined in recent years.

Fifteen players were in uniform at the start of this season ' enough to field an eight-man team. But three quit the week of Sept. 26 rather than knock heads with No. 2-ranked Powers (the Cougars lost 58-8), two were injured in a 36-6 loss to Days Creek on Oct. — and then star quarterback/defensive back Dan Scull dropped out of school.

That left the team with just nine players. Gordon met with them last week, and a decision was made to disband.

Scull was unquestionably the team's best player and his departure was the final blow, Alexander says.

Scull, who was staying with friends after his family moved to Texas last summer, had not encountered any trouble and was doing well in school, Alexander says.

It was so disheartening to the rest of the team when Dan left, says Alexander, adding that he doesn't know where Scull has gone. He had a lot of friends here and we were all disappointed to see him leave.

Alexander hopes the program can be restored next year.

I'm going to recommend that we go to a JV schedule next year because we're going to have mostly younger kids, Alexander says. No one likes to get waxed.

THE BUTTE FALLS football team didn't know it at the time, but its 36-22 victory over North Lake on Oct. 10 marked its final game.

The Loggers have been handed forfeit victories over Paisley and Prospect to leave them with a 5-2 record, but their players have an empty feeling all their own.

This is my 11th year at Butte Falls and I don't remember anything happening that was this bad, Butte Falls athletic director Mike Harrington says. Not being allowed to play two games is a huge disappointment for our kids. Plus, Prospect has always been our big rival game.

Harrington says the senior football players will be honored during the school's home volleyball match on Friday.

THERE IS STILL SOME work

to do, but the Phoenix High football team can pull off one of the greatest comebacks in Skyline Conference history if the Pirates advance to the state playoffs.

Given up for dead following their 22-14 loss to Hidden Valley on Sept. 26 that left them 0-2 in conference play and 1-4 overall, the Pirates have stormed back to beat defending conference champion Mazama (7-6) and Illinois Valley (27-0).

Phoenix went into its tailspin following injuries to three of its best players ' senior two-way tackle Vern Hull, junior tailback/linebacker Max Boots and senior wide receiver/defensive back Martin Gonzalez.

All three are now back in the lineup and have made important contributions in the wins over Mazama and Illinois Valley.

With Boots sidelined and Gonzalez ailing, the Pirates were still able to build a 20-10 lead through 2&

189; quarters of their game against North Valley on Sept. 19.

But then the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Hull went down with an injury and North Valley rallied for a 24-20 victory. The following Friday the short-handed Pirates were upset by Hidden Valley, and with tough games on the horizon, their playoff hopes were hanging by a thread.

It looked like we had control of that North Valley game and then the wheels fell off, Phoenix coach Gordy Crowston says. It really hurt to lose Vern (Hull) ' I think he's the best lineman in the conference ' but we fell apart more than we should have in that game, and then we really laid an egg against Hidden Valley the following week.

The Pirates racked up a season-high 405 yards in total offense against Illinois Valley, with Boots and senior fullback Jimi Lockheed both surpassing 100 yards rushing.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail