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Local high school coaches join OSAA executive in discussion on the decline in participation numbers

SUMMERFIELDBrad Garrett, OSAA. Served as national rules committee chairman for National Federation of High Schools 2012-15. Current member of board for USA Football, governing body for amateur football in U.S. Quote: "We want to make sure every mom and dad knows we're minimizing as much risk as possible, knowing the game does have some risk."

Terry Summerfield, 19th year, Barlow. Enrollment: 1,528. Football participation this year (ninth through 12th grade): 100. In 2008: 132. Quote: "The benefits from football outweigh the risks if you have coaches doing the right things."

Devarieous Sly-Clay, third year, Benson. Enrollment: 750. Participation in football: 34. In 2008: 77. Quote: "We live in a technology-driven world, and a lot of kids look at it like, 'So why should I be taken away from my video games to play this sport?' Many of them have never played organized team sports, and football is hard. A lot of kids don't like hard."

Chris Knudsen, 32nd year, Centennial. Enrollment: 1,477. Participation in football: 74. In 2008: 99. Quote: "As coaches, we need to get the word out about the safety that's going on right now in high school football. Some of the reports show cheerleading per capita has more concussions."

Steve Pyne, 15th year, Central Catholic. Enrollment: 891. Participation in football: 117. In 2008: 126. Quote: "I've been a proponent that kids start playing tackle football way too young. God bless the fathers of this world who are coaching. But to some, it's not about developing players and love for the game, it's about winning and playoffs in third and fourth grade."

Tom McCarthy, fifth year, Franklin. Enrollment: 1,345. Participation in football: 102. In 2008: 75. Quote: "A few kids aren't playing because of fear of concussions, but the kids we have like being out here. We make it fun. We have a good time. We work hard. And we teach football the correct way."

Steve Coury, 26th year, Lake Oswego. Enrollment: 1,307. Participation in football: 75. In 2008: 115. Quote: "We're way down in numbers from five, six years ago, and the injury scare is the major part of that. So much has been done in terms of safety, though. It's still a hard-nosed game, and it's all the other stuff you get out of the game that has an impact on the rest of our life and teaches a lot of life lessons."

Greg Lawrence, 24th year, Sherwood. Enrollment: 1,569. Participation in football: 130. In 2008: 116. Quote: "Parents are concerned, and they should be, but their kids are in safe hands with us. We're going to teach them how to tackle and hit correctly and do the things that can help prevent injury."

Craig Ruecker, ninth year, Tigard. Enrollment: 1,771. Participation in football: 144. In 2008: 142. Quote: "Young people used to play multiple sports simply to have a good time, to be a part of something bigger and more important than themselves, to be with their friends, to have a great experience and learn some wonderful lessons along the way. The world has changed."

Chris Miller, fourth year, West Linn. Enrollment: 1,707. Participation of football: 125. In 2008: 116. Quote: "At West Linn last year, we had the same amount of concussions in girls basketball and cheerleading as in football. In our youth and high school football programs, there were no repeat concussions through the year. If I were a parent, I'd feel good about that."

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