The king of high school sports is coming to Waxahachie Faith Family Academy.
In Texas there is no doubting that football is the top sport for high schools to draw interest to the school, bring in extra revenue and ignite community interest.
After considering the possibilities of a football program for more than 10 years WFFA recently announced it will add football for the 2011-12 school year before joining a University Interscholastic League six-man district for the 2012-13 season.
“It was kind of like Christmas at the school when we told everybody. It spread through fast in the halls and the teachers and kids were all happy,” Athletic director Aaron Ehly said. “We have been trying to get a football program for a while but with all the money involved there was a little hesitation for a while. We finally talked the decision makers into it after the kids showed interest in it year after year.”
Ehly will coach the six-man team while remaining the head coach of the basketball and baseball programs.
“I wasn’t sure if WFFA was going to have football next year but when I found out that they were I was really excited. I can not wait for next year,” Freshman Joseph Mann said.
Not only is WFFA adding traditional American football, it is also adding the original futbol, soccer, to expand the sports program even further to attract more students to the school.
“I think by adding football and soccer it will draw more kids to the school because we will have a full slate of sports to offer. We are a free charter school and allow the kids to buy their own equipment for all the sports while supplying some equipment on a limited budget and donations,” Ehly said.
With the addition of football and soccer WFFA will offer five sports for the 2011-12 school year. The school has been competing in UIL baseball and softball while playing non-UIL boys and girls basketball. The Eagles also have an UIL cross country team.
Ehly and the Eagles will be new to six-man but have several local schools to draw from in order to learn the game quickly and be ready for next season.
Milford is a local powerhouse in six-man and advanced deep in the playoffs last season while Avalon made the playoffs for the first time after starting its team a little more than five years ago.
Waxahachie Advantage also has experience on the six-man level and between the schools Ehly hopes to learn the basics quick enough to have his Eagles competitive as they compete as an outlaw in August.
“We are going to try and play Waxahachie Advantage, Avalon and a lot of the other six-man schools in the area our first year as an outlaw team to get a feel for what our district opponents might look like once we join the UIL for the 2012 football season,” Ehly said. “It is probably going to be a little bumpy getting it started but we are excited.”
With the baseball season in full swing a schedule has not been set for the 2011 football season but Ehly said all the WFFA home games will be played at the Waxahachie Sports Complex.
Ehly expects to have no problem fielding a team at WFFA as the interest in football has been high. He has several players on the basketball and baseball team that he thinks will make the jump and play football too.
“Pretty much all the basketball and baseball players are the same. We had 12 baseball and 14 basketball and there is a couple more that would have played football if we had it this year so fielding a team should not be a problem,” he said. “We have some fast players on the baseball team that are underclassmen so hopefully that will translate to football. Jacob Garcia will be a senior next year and is pretty fast so we will be counting on him while we have several other guys like a Lane Young, Alex Silva and Joseph Mann.”
Six-man football can be rough to new teams as there is a “mercy rule” in place so that games do not get out of hand.
Ehly knows it can be rough but also knows that his players believe in him and will do whatever it takes to be their best.
“Since most of the kids I have had with baseball and basketball they know my attitude toward the game. Hopefully they will keep that in football and try to win as many games as we can,” Ehly said. “We are going to teach them to work hard, learn from the tough games and be ready to be a competitive UIL team in 2012.”
One of Ehly’s future players, eighth-grader Teddy Mann, has the type of belief in Ehly that will help the move to the football field be smooth.
“I think Coach Ehly is a great coach and I think we will have a good season in football next year, and we may just go undefeated because he is such a great coach,” Mann said.
The biannual UIL alignment will take place after the 2011 football season and then WFFA should be aligned in a district that will likely include Waxahachie Advantage, Avalon and others.
While the football program will play a year as a non-UIL school the soccer program looks to be an outlaw for the foreseeable future.
UIL soccer teams start with the Class 3A level and those teams play up a level with Class 4A program.
Ehly said he does not think that playing as an outlaw and not being able to make the playoffs will deter students from coming out and playing on the team. He said there are several private and charter schools in the area that have soccer teams that WFFA will be able to compete against.