IWAKUNI MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Japan — Football at Matthew C. Perry High School is no more.

After determining only 15 or so were interested in playing this fall, athletic director Robert Funk said school administrators canceled the program.

“We didn’t think it would be a good idea to put our boys on the field against larger teams with so few players, having to go both ways, with no break,” Funk said.

With an enrollment of 130 — 60 of them boys — Funk said the school felt fielding a football squad, as well as cross country and tennis teams was too much of a task.

The Samurais, formed in 1996, played eight seasons before suspending operations last fall, also due to lack of players; officials said resuming the program would be revisited this spring.

After several town meetings and canvassing parents and potentially interested players, school administrators determined too few were interested to field a team safely.

Funk said the school wanted to announce the decision early so the 2005 Japan Football League schedule could be set.

Lack of players forced the Samurai to forfeit a game in 2003 at Robert D. Edgren and another in 2001 at Yokota.

Perry did not field baseball or girls softball teams in 2004. This spring’s baseball team features five girls who formerly played softball. And Perry’s girls basketball team in 2003 attended the Far East Girls Class A Tournament with just five players, as did the boys team one season later.

Perry’s decision will mean one fewer team in the JFL, which includes Yokota, Zama American and Nile C. Kinnick as its Class AA teams and Robert D. Edgren as its only small-schools squad.

It also will give Edgren a free ride into Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific’s new two-tiered football playoff structure, scheduled to begin this season. Perry was Edgren’s only Class A opposition.

Baseball also found itself competing with soccer for athletes.

Perry will try to field a baseball team in the fall, when it hopes to play its southwest neighbor, E.J. King at Sasebo Naval Base, as well as Osaka- and Kobe-based international schools.

“That might better suit our student population,” Funk said, adding that if that doesn’t work, “we’ll go back to the drawing board.” Should student enrollment increase, “we’ll consider going back to football,” he said. “We still have the gear.”

“It would be wonderful if they could keep having a team,” added Jim Bowers, DODDS-Japan’s assistant district superintendent for sports, “but the truth is, after a couple of years when you don’t get enough players, you have to look and see if you should keep doing it.”

Matthew C. Perry football year-by-year results

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now