‘We will be back up there’

North Marion may not have attracted many fans for its scrimmage at Bridgeport Thursday, but supporters are confident the community will rally behind the Huskies during the 2006 season.

Although the player roster may be diminutive, support for the 2006 North Marion High School football team is nothing short of immense as the season kicks off.

“Just because we have a small team, we’re still backing the Huskies. And we will be up there again someday,” said longtime team supporter JoAnn Wilson.

Wilson and her husband Jack, who works with the team’s chain crew, have been working with and supporting North Marion for years. And she said despite the small 34-member team this year, their dedication to the boys has not dwindled in the least.

“Husky football has become a part of our lives,” she said. “We just have a good program, and we’re trying to hang on and keep it going.”

Sharing the Wilsons’ positive spirit, North Marion principal Judd Ashcraft has no worries about the level of support the players will be receiving as they begin their fall schedule.

“We’re positive about it,” he said. “Although there may be some people who are disappointed, I have no doubt our fans will be there to support these kids.”

Ashcraft said the fact that the team is not as stacked as it has been in previous years has not had any effect at all on any of the other organizations or students within the school, such as the band and the cheerleading squad. They are still out there every day practicing to support their classmates at the games.

“We just do our thing as far as the band goes. We’re there to support them,” said band director Tom Straight. “We’re going to go out there and play for them and play the fight song because it’s our team. The band supports the football team all the way.”

Sophomore clarinet player Rebecca Shriver agreed that the number of players on the field does not matter to the band as far as support goes.

“We’ll still go to all of the games,” she said. “If there’s a team and they’re playing, we’re going to be there playing for them.”

She also said that with so many players leaving in such a short time, the ones who decided to stick with it should get some recognition, which is even more of an incentive for the band to execute its support.

“Some people weren’t strong enough to stay on the team, so the ones who did should be promoted for sticking it out,” she said.

The girls of the North Marion cheerleading squad have a similar take on the situation and plan to give the team undying support from the sidelines regardless of how many guys are taking the field.

“As cheerleaders, we are preparing our squad to cheer on the team no matter if there are 20 players or 50 players,” said cheerleading coach Angie Bowman. “This hasn’t discouraged us one bit. We’re here for our school.”

Serving as boosters for the team, the coaches and the parents of the players have also been unwavering in their support of the hardworking team by taking turns providing meals and snacks at games and practices as well as organizing a kick-off picnic to start the season.

“The coaching staff is doing everything it can. We have a team. We’re supporting the team. And we’re going into it like any other season,” said head coach Gerry White’s wife, Kathy White. “Whatever our children need we give to them, and we always support them no matter what our number is.”

While theories surrounding the reasons for the low player numbers are plentiful, the bottom line is simply that despite it all, the majority of the school and the community are 100 percent behind their Huskies and plan to stay that way no matter what happens.

“I know there are a lot of questions out there, and I’m sure there are a lot of reasons. But we do have a football team,” said Ashcraft. “There are 35 kids out there sweating their tails off, and we’ve got support behind them.”

E-mail Mallory Panuska at mpanuska@timeswv.com.

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