High School Football

Turlock Christian drops football program. What does this mean for players?

With players visiting other schools, rumors began early this summer that Turlock Christian would drop its football program.

It became official on Monday when Eagles Athletic Director Nicole Rodrigues confirmed the move, citing low turnout for the team.

“We just didn’t have enough players to support a full team,” she said. “It could be a couple of years before we have football again.”

MaxPreps had 20 players listed on Turlock Christian’s roster last year. However, at times, the team suited up fewer than that. The Eagles went 2-8 last season, losing their last five games by a combined 236-35.

The Sac-Joaquin Section hasn’t been officially told of the move yet but over the next month, the Central California Athletic Alliance, Turlock Christian’s league, will inform the section of which teams will be participating in each sport for the upcoming season.

“We have heard through the grapevine of the decision,” Assistant Commissioner Will DeBoard said. “Teams were not scheduling Turlock Christian and we saw it (dropping program) as a distinct possibility.”

Big Valley Christian, a member of the CCAA, already has adjusted its schedule and the Lions will now face Delta on Sept. 27.

Big Valley Christian coach Brian Berkefeld said he felt bad for the student-athletes.

“They go to a school looking for a great education and other things and they want an opportunity to play sports,” he said.

Big Valley had 30 on its roster last year but had games where it suited up fewer. Berkefeld said the biggest challenge is to keep the numbers up.

“The challenge every year is meeting some sort of benchmark,” he said. “For us, it’s 10 kids per class. This year, we have 17 kids in our senior class but seven in our junior.”

He said the coaching staff goes around campus recruiting kids to play and half of the boys at the school are on the football team.

DeBoard said players from Turlock Christian can transfer under a documented hardship and be eligible immediately. However, they can’t stay at the Monte Vista Avenue campus and play for another team.

The last time Turlock Christian made the playoffs was in 2007, when they went 10-1 and won the Southern League.

Julian A. Lopez has been covering local sports for The Modesto Bee since August 2018. He graduated from Arizona State in 2016 with a BA in Journalism.