For the second straight year, the number of athletes participating in 11-man football in California dropped by more than 3,000 in 2016, according to a census published by the CIF on Tuesday.
Overall, the CIF saw sports participation climb to an all-time high for a fifth consecutive year, with close to 800,000 high schoolers taking part in education-based athletic programs.
Lacrosse saw the largest percentage increase from 2015, a combined 7.4 percent in boys and girls (1,245 more participants).
Football remained the most popular boys sport, still with 97,079 players despite losing 3,126 from the 2015 season.
The sport dropped from 103,725 athletes in 2014 to 100,205 in 2015.
In light of the state’s more than 900 football programs, it qualifies as more of a trickle than a mass exodus.
Even still, it’s a trend not necessarily mirrored by the Foothill League.
Saugus High had about 20 fewer freshmen go out for football in 2016 than it did in 2015, but only because it had a record 63 freshmen show up in 2015.
Somewhere between 40 and 50 – the number of Centurion freshmen last year and this summer, respectively – is closer to the program’s average, according to longtime coach Jason Bornn.
West Ranch coach Chris Varner said Tuesday that more players came out for football in 2016 and 2017, respectively, than in 2015.
Across the program, the Wildcats boast about 15 more players now than last season.
Part of the two-year growth, of course, could be tied to buzz surrounding Varner’s arrival after the ‘15 campaign.
Because he’s on campus (the Wildcats’…
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