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October 14, 2005

Pilots Homecoming brings 'wish list' to light

By Carla Thornquist

Coach Newell instructs the Pilots.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 large turnout.

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 Robert NewellHead 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 program.

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 mosquitos.

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 Pop Warner (flag or junior tackle) type program for youth (elementary school age) 5) more underclassman on the team and 6) a summer weight program.

"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.

'Day before game' practice
Pilot players take part in a 'day before game' practice at Cairo High School.

Pilots football practice photos

On the web:
Cairo H.S. Season Summaries at
Cairo High School at
Black Diamond Conference at

© 2005 The Cairo Gate