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— On Monday, 17 junior high football players were hard at work practicing for the upcoming football season.

The familiar sights and sounds of after school practice - the players suited up in Bulldog uniforms, the crack of helmets and the sharp blast of the coaches whistle - all give hope for the future of Decatur's senior high football program.

Earlier this month, school officials canceled the senior high football schedule for this season because of a lack of participation. Only five to nine players were consistently coming to practice, according to head coach Bill Brockert.

The junior high football team has 20 players on the roster, coach Stan Ellis said, and 17 of them were at Monday's practice. About 10 players consistently attended summer practice, but it isn't unusual to have low numbers at summer practice with junior high students who have to rely on their parents for transportation.

"We have a good group of dedicated kids and a good core we can build around," Ellis said.

Athletic director BobbyKing said the plan is to keep the junior high program going so the school can have hope of fielding a senior high team again soon.

The junior high team is comprised of students in sevenththrough ninth grades, so this year's eighth and ninth graders could possibly play on a senior high team next year.

Ninth graders are allowed to play on a senior high team, but once they do, they can't go

back and play on a junior high

team, King explained.

The junior high Bulldog's

first game will be against

Gentry on Sept. 3. The first

home game will be on Sept. 17

against Western Yell county.

Sports, Pages 7 on 08/26/2009

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