By RYAN PRITT
POCA, W.Va. - As Poca's boys soccer team was preparing to depart on a bus ride to Winfield for a game Thursday night, it received news that it wouldn't be playing after all - not just that evening, but for the rest of the season.
Citing a Putnam County rule that requires at least 15 players on a soccer roster, athletic director Steve Cox informed head coach Brock Jarrett that with 14 players in the fold, the Dots program would be halted for the indefinite future.
Poca was scheduled to entertain Huntington St. Joe on Tuesday. The Dots also had games scheduled with local teams Lincoln County on Sept. 26, Chesapeake on Oct. 7, Winfield on Oct. 10 and Spring Valley on Oct. 15.
"My last son graduated last year and I was going to hang it up then because he was done, but with the number of graduating seniors (10), I stuck around," Jarrett said. "I wanted to make sure we kept it going and I figured if I dropped off it would probably fall apart. It was just a lot of work keeping it going."
The Dots started with 15 players but one was ruled academically ineligible before the season began. An injury has also been keeping another out, leaving Poca with 13 in the early portion of the season. The Dots started 0-5 before their struggles with participation reached the school board.
Jarrett has been the coach since 2015, when the program was founded. The late notice left him no choice but to send out a mass group text to players and parents regarding the decision. Obviously, there were numerous questions and some crushed young athletes.
"Nobody was very happy," Jarrett said.
Poca's girls basketball program also temporarily folded in 2011-2012 only to return the following season and reach the state tournament in 2017.
Whether the Dots' boys soccer program can rebound at all by next year is unknown at this point.
"We're still talking about it, I don't know what will become of it," Jarrett said. "There's really nothing we can do, I just wish we'd known about it earlier. It is what it is. Once something gets stopped like that, it's hard to get it going again. Hopefully we can get it back and I'll do my part to get it going again next year."