Lights out on Friday nights

Published 10:35 am Monday, August 7, 2017

MERRY HILL – Lawrence Academy has informed the Colonial Carolina Conference the school is suspending varsity football for the 2017 season. The school reached the decision by the conference-imposed deadline of Friday.

The Warriors, who have fielded a varsity squad for 50 years, won the independent schools state championship 25 years ago this fall. Last season LAW did not win a game or make the playoffs.

There will still be football at the Merry Hill campus. Lawrence will field a junior varsity team because they’ve had a good turnout for that squad.

The Colonial now has gained two jayvee squads. Pungo Christian Academy in Belhaven, like Lawrence, a member of the Tarheel Independent Conference in other sports, had also hoped to field a varsity football team this season, but instead will play one more season of junior varsity

Lawrence Academy (in black), shown here against St. David’s School in a game at Merry Hill in 2015, will suspend varsity football this season after 50 years in the sport and 25 years since the Warriors last won the state championship. | 2nd Chance Productions / Andre Alfred

“It came down to a question of numbers,” said LAW Board of Trustees chairman Jon Powell. “We think we know how many kids we’ve got, but we can only base things on the number of kids who’ve shown up in practice. We’ve got plenty of kids for jayvee and we know we can build from that.”

Powell said the decision didn’t exactly catch the school by surprise.

“We knew this was coming because we had some small classes in the senior high school and we’d been watching it,” he noted. “Other kids are trying to get through injuries and didn’t turn out. Hopefully, they’ll get healed and be able to turn out come basketball and baseball season.”

He says despite the loss on Friday nights, the school still has a proud football tradition and hopes this short setback gives Lawrence something to build upon.

When the school was opened in the late sixties, LAW fielded 11-man teams prior to the allowance of 8-man squads.

“We were fielding 11-man teams,” Powell added. “But this was back when we were playing all the big schools like Ravenscroft in Raleigh and it just became a case of numbers again. It just wasn’t as much fun because everybody else had twice as many kids and we did.”

When LAW dropped to 8-man football in 1989, quarterback Glen Taylor led Lawrence to an undefeated season that year (9-0), but there was no state championship as the 8-man league wasn’t recognized by the state at that time. The Warriors eventually did win the state crown in 1992 with an 8-2 overall mark and a 21-14 win over Hobgood at Scotland Neck in the title game.