Clinton football decision creates scheduling problem

By Christopher Tenpenny

The Missouri River Valley Conference (MRVC) and the Harrisonville football team were put into a scheduling bind as Clinton High School announced Aug. 17 it would not be fielding a varsity football team this season. The announcement on the school’s social media page cited inadequate numbers, concern for physical safety and resetting a program that has lost 31 consecutive varsity games. This is a one-year cancelation and Clinton will still participate in junior varsity games.

For Harrisonville, the cancelation leaves a hole in the season with no game scheduled for Oct. 8.

“It’s frustrating, but we don’t have any control over what they do,” Harrisonville head coach Kyle Schenker said.

“We are going to do everything we can to find a game. If we can’t find a game, then we’ll figure something out, but we will do anything to get a game back on the schedule.”

Clinton is not the first team to cancel its varsity football program and force the Wildcats to find a new opponent. Harrisonville opens up the season tomorrow night at home against Wayne Hills from New Jersey. While the novelty of playing a school from New Jersey is exciting and interesting, the game was scheduled out of necessity.

The Wildcats play nine regular season games, seven of which are against conference opponents. Prior to the 2020 season, Harrisonville agreed to two-year contracts with Maryville and Trinity Catholic as nonconference opponents in 2020-2021.

When Trinity Catholic closed down its school in the spring, the Wildcats were left with no week one games and other potential opponents were locked into contracts with other schools.

Harrisonville scrambled to find an opponent and were contacted by Wayne Hills to set up the opening game.

“Every situation is different,” Schenker said. “I think a lot of it recently has to do with the pandemic. People aren’t taking coaching jobs or kids aren’t coming out to play.

“Like I said, every place has their own unique situation.”

While high school football participation numbers continue to decrease across the state and nation, Harrisonville appears to be flourishing.

“I’m very grateful and blessed to be coaching where I am right now,” Schenker said. “We have around 80 kids out for football this year. We are in a great spot as a program and we want to continue building it up.”