Jenkins suspends football program due to low numbers

Published 12:10 pm Thursday, September 19, 2019

With only 14 players on their roster in July, the Harlan Green Dragons forfeited their season-opening game against Harlan County.

Numbers increased after the decision, up to a high of 26, and Harlan was able to play out the remainder of its schedule. Jenkins High School won’t be as fortunate.

It appears the Green Dragons will be on the other side of a forfeit decision with the announcement earlier this week that Jenkins was suspending its football game for the remainder of the fooball season due to low numbers.

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“We regret we are unable to play our game with Jenkins. We have experienced our own share of difficulties around injuries this year, so we can certainly sympathize with the challenges the Cavaliers are experiencing,” said Harlan Independent Schools Supt. C.D. Morton. “We feel fortunate that our participation numbers increased from the summer. It has allowed us to continue to compete through our own injuries. We wish Jenkins the very best and hope to see them on the field next year.”

Jenkins has only 14 players on its roster on the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Web site and reportedly lost several players due to injuries. The Cavaliers forfeited a game against Rye Cove, Va., on Aug. 30 after 39-8 loss to Breathitt County in their season opener. Jenkins was losing 30-0 against Jackson County in the third quarter on Friday when coaches decided to forfeit. School officials decided to cancel the remainder of the season due to injuries.

“It’s been tough, especially for the kids/seniors. I tell them keep the faith and this will make you a better man one way or the other,” Jenkins coach Kenneth O’Quinn Jr. said. “Sure, I’d love to win every time we step on the field, but that is not what it’s all about. It’s about putting young men out into the world with the ability to take all the hits life gives you and get right back up. This is the smallest bunch I’ve ever been a part of, but although they were always outnumbered and outmanned the kept getting up. As a coach, that makes me proud. They could have laid down a long time ago but they chose to fight to the bitter end. It says so much about character. I’ll never forget this team and these seniors especially.”

With an open date this week, the 0-4 Green Dragons will have two weeks between games. Harlan will return to action on Sept. 27 at Thomas Walker, Va.

“In all my years of coaching, I’ve never coached on a staff where we had two open weeks in a row,” Harlan coach Eric Perry said. “We will be utilizing the time to focus on us and what we need to do to improve individually and as a team.”

Perry and Morton said they were trying to find a replacement for Jenkins on the schedule but it appears unlikely.

“Each opponent is being given the option to choose whether or not to accept the forfeit or cancel by mutual agreement and try and find a replacement,” said KHSAA spokesman Joe Angolia.