What’s next after ‘heartbreaking’ early end for John Marshall football team

8Sports Blitz High School Sports Updates

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After six weeks of play, the John Marshall Justices’ high school football season is ending early.

The school announced Wednesday that the rest of its football season had been canceled, citing injuries and low participation numbers.

This decision means that current seniors at John Marshall won’t have played a complete season in two years, as the 2020-21 season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

8News spoke with senior quarterback Jaevion Trent back in August, as the 2021-22 season was just getting started. He had high hopes for the team.

“I want to make the playoffs,” he said. “I want the team to have a successful year, to be very competitive. I know everybody wants to make the playoffs. But I feel like we have a really good chance because we have a really good chemistry and stuff like that. I trust in what we have going on as a team.”

The Justices were 0-4 on the season. They were originally scheduled to play Mills Godwin on Friday, Glen Allen on Oct. 15, Charlottesville on Oct. 22, Hermitage on Oct. 29, and J.R. Tucker on Nov. 5.

“People will have to scramble and try to find games and see what they [can] do because the ultimate goal was to get every student-athlete out there and every team and give them an opportunity to play 10 games,” Virginia High School League (VHSL) Executive Director Dr. Billy Haun said. “Everybody wants their students to play, and while you get a forfeit out of it, that’s not really what you’re looking for.”

Haun said that it will be up to the teams that John Marshall was scheduled to play to try to find other opponents.

He also said that the Justices are not the first team to have had to cut their season short this year.

“We do have, I guess, three teams now that have just forfeited the remainder of the season,” Haun said. “It was about low participation numbers to start off with.”

With COVID-19 still a factor this year and injuries shifting the number of athletes who could play, Haun said it has been a challenging season for many in the VHSL. However, he noted that there were issues with low participation numbers even prior to the pandemic. There had been meetings with coaches to discuss the possibility of going to eight-man or nine-man football.

“I know there were some participation and low numbers issues before COVID, and it seems we still have some as we’re coming out of COVID or as we’re moving on here,” Haun said. “It’ll be really interesting, once we get those participation numbers in the spring, to sit down and take a look at those and see what they say.”

Justices’ senior center, Guy Barber, told 8News back in August that he was looking forward to finally being back out on the field with his teammates and having a chance to improve.

“I just want to make my momma proud,” he said. “The goal for the team this year — first of all, we just go out there to have fun, win or lose. I want to make the playoffs, give John Marshall a good run, putting northside — make sure they [are] proud of us, and give people something to cheer for.”

Haun said that his heart goes out to the John Marshall community, and he is hopeful they will return for a full season next year.

“You always hate to hear that news. The first thing, my heart goes out to the kids who are still healthy and still had a chance to play, and now, their season got cut short,” he said. “I feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for the kids who were injured or couldn’t play and longer, and I feel bad for the coaches. You put in a lot of time and a lot of hours, a lot of effort. Then, not to be able to finish is heartbreaking.”

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