Pilots Homecoming brings 'wish
list' to light
By Carla Thornquist
Tonight Cairo High School celebrates
Homecoming with their final home game of the season against the
Johnston City Indians (5-2-0 record.) The Pilots are hoping for a
Cairo High School's football program has been neglected by
both the school district and the citizens of Cairo. The last
Pilot football team that broke .500 was in 1990-91 when they had
5 wins and 4 losses under Coach Ron Woods. A losing record leaves
few wins to celebrate, but a community should support their high
school sports programs win or lose, especially when a sports
program is lacking equipment, as well as personnel. That is the
situation Cairo High School football is facing.
Head Coach Newell has been coaching football at
Cairo High School for 11 years, including two years as head
coach. Reflecting upon this year's season, Coach Newell
expressed regret that they do not have more players. He explained
that Cairo High School is the only school in the Black Diamond
conference that does not co-op. Schools that co-op double and
triple their pool of players. From under 200 students in a
school, to 300-600 students. The Cairo football team has 17
players including junior varsity. Yet they must play against
teams of 50 players with 35 at the varsity level. Mr. Newell
could not explain why Cairo High School no longer co-ops with
Meridian, but believes it's necessary.
Coach Newell wants more commitment from his players. Many of
whom, seem to take basketball more seriously than football. When
asked about attendance at football games versus basketball games,
he said, "There's no comparison. The kids come to the
football games, but not the adults."
Coach Newell wants more community involvement in the football
When asked what the football program needs, Coach Newell noted
that the team is using the same tackling sled that he used as a
player at Cairo High School in 1979. Also, this is the first year
in a very long time that they received new footballs. He stressed
that little money is allocated to the football program.
Although they have the third best field in the league,
re-seeding would make it number one. Surrounded by dense
vegetation on the levee, there is a serious problem with
Uniforms are another concern of Coach Newell. He has asked his
assistant coaches to call area colleges to inquire about donating
their used uniforms, since the Pilot's uniforms are going on
10 years of use.
Coach Newell said the football program urgently needs tackling
sleds. They can use a one, two, five and/or seven man sled.
The Pilot's Defensive Coordinator, Mr. Kall, drives 60
miles from Dongola to help coach the team. When asked to comment
on the 2005 season, Kall said, "It's been a
disappointing season. However, I guarantee that in two years, if
the freshmen stick together, we'll have more than a decent
team. It takes two years to formulate an offensive line and we
have five freshmen."
Mr. Kall's wish list for the team includes 1) more
community support 2) new sleds 3) re-seeded field 4) a
(flag or junior tackle) type program for youth (elementary school
age) 5) more underclassman on the team and 6) a summer
"We have nothing for grade school and junior high kids.
Our football program starts freshman year," he added.
If anyone knows of any used uniforms or wants to donate to the
football program, contact Cairo High School Athletic Director,
Larry Baldwin at (618) 521-2672.
Pilot players take part in a 'day before game' practice
at Cairo High School.
On the web:
Cairo H.S. Season Summaries at IHSA.org
Cairo High School at IHSA.org
Black Diamond Conference at IHSA.org