The Glendale Unified School District confirmed Wednesday that Hoover High will not field a varsity football team for the 2019 season.
The decision seemingly stems from a lack of interest and low numbers within the Tornadoes’ program.
According to a press release: “In order to give these new recruits time to build their strength and skill level, Hoover will field a Freshman/Sophomore team this fall. Hoover plans to grow into Junior Varsity in fall 2020 and have a competitive Varsity program by fall 2021.”
Burroughs High football coach Rand Holdren confirmed he was contacted by Hoover about the decision and was encouraged to find an alternate game for the week the Indians were scheduled to play against the Tornadoes.
“It’s tough to see any program drop,” Holdren said. “It’s not good for a lot of reasons. The landscape that we live in these days … there are just so many things pulling kids every which way.
“It’s also tough to see a team from this league drop and it’s just unfortunate. The kids, the coaches, the sport and the community really are all affected. But in this case, I can see why they are going it.”
The decision by Hoover to not field a varsity team for the upcoming season has left opponents scrambling to find a replacement game.
The Tornadoes were scheduled to open the season Aug. 23 with a zero-week nonleague game against La Cañada. In 2018, Hoover defeated the Spartans, 13-12, for their lone win of the season.
David Keys, Hoover’s assistant principal in charge of athletics, said Tuesday morning that the school planned to field a varsity team in 2019.
“They’ve been out there at spring ball and working hard,” Keys said. “We’re looking to have a team.”
When reached later Tuesday about sources revealing Hoover wouldn’t have a squad, Keys referred all inquiries to Hoover principal Jennifer Earl.
A message left for Earl Tuesday afternoon was not returned.
Pacific League opponent Burroughs was slated to face Hoover in the seventh week on Oct. 10.
“Everyone is booked up right now and it’s very hard to find a team with an open date for that week,” Holdren said. “We are trying our best to find a reasonable game because this will have implications down the road.
“Our league goes down to seven teams right now and finding a game for week seven is limiting. So we’re in scramble mode a little right now. It’s really about the kids because we want them to be able to play 10 games. The last two years Burroughs has only played nine games both years.”
Another league opponent, Burbank, had a game against the Tornadoes in the ninth week on Oct. 25.
“It’s very unfortunate, obviously for the players and the school and the league,” said Burbank High Principal Michael Bertram, a Hoover graduate. “Speaking as a principal, I know it’s going to be very difficult to find a replacement game.
“Speaking as a Hoover alum, it’s really sad for me. It’s sad that it has gotten to this point, but I can understand why it has gotten to this point.”
Crescenta Valley, which has been a Pacific League opponent with Hoover for decades, was scheduled to play the Tornadoes in a week-eight game on Oct. 18. A Crescenta Valley administrator, who asked not to be identified, said the Falcons are exploring finding an alternate opponent to make up for the lost game.
The Hoover program was left reeling during the 2018 season when it had to forfeit games and backed out of the annual “Battle for the Victory Bell” rivalry game against Glendale.
The contest was scheduled for Oct. 25, but an on-campus brawl Oct. 3 at Hoover that involved Tornadoes football players led to the ultimate cancellation. As a result, Hoover forfeited its final four games of the season — all in the Pacific League — against Pasadena, Burroughs, Crescenta Valley and Glendale.
A group of players were suspended from school as a result of the incident and some members of the coaching staff were placed on administrative leave before being cleared to return.
Leading into the week of the rivalry contest, the Glendale Unified School District agreed to let Glendale and Hoover play in the homecoming game, but less than three hours before kickoff the game was canceled, as the district cited safety concerns.
The district released a statement that read; "We understand that sentiments around this game run deep and, while it was our wish that our students were able to finish the season on the field, we will not run the risk of hosting an event with threats of disruption that potentially puts all involved at risk."
Last season, Hoover had a 1-8 record and was winless in the Pacific League. The program has since hired a new coach, Azad Herabidian.
The Tornadoes have been playing in the cross-town rivalry with Glendale since 1930. The Tornadoes haven’t made the CIF Southern Section playoffs since 1987, which was the last year the program posted a winning record.