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CEDAR RAPIDS — He knew going into it that the adjustment would be huge. This would be a major undertaking.
“Whew,” Apollo Betsworth said, when asked what the experience of going from eight-player to 11-player football has been like.
His sigh is all you need to hear.
“Besides the obvious, a three-man difference, the length of the field, the width of the field, it’s been a lot more competitive,” he said. “But so far, it has been a great experience, and I’ve had a lot of fun. I think the competitiveness has been a lot more fun as well.”
When Cedar Valley Christian School announced over the summer that it was discontinuing its football program for at least 2016 and 2017 because of a lack of participants, the few remaining players in the program were left in a lurch. They could hang up their cleats and helmets or continue playing for Cedar Rapids Washington, which is about a minute drive from CVC in southeast Cedar Rapids.
Only two decided to take that latter option. Jackson Foote is a lineman for the Wash sophomore team.
Betsworth, a senior, is a backup running back-linebacker for the Warriors varsity. CVC’s leading rusher and tackler last season has been reduced to kickoff duty for Class 4A’s third-ranked team.
Washington plays Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Thursday night at Kingston Stadium.
“Going from 8-man to 4A, and one of the best 4A programs in the state, there were a lot of questions if I was even going to try it,” Betsworth said. “I questioned whether I was going to be playing or not, if I’d even get a chance to play outside of the practice squad. But I’ve been on kickoffs, I got in for a couple plays last week at running back. I was questioning whether or not to play, but I’m glad I did.”
Betsworth always has loved playing football. That comes naturally since his father, Ed, was Cedar Valley Christian’s head coach.
This is the first time in 34 years that Ed Betsworth isn’t on the sideline coaching somewhere. That part has been tough on both father and son.
“That is different,” Apollo said. “He was my coach in fourth-grade flag football, fifth and sixth grade, then ninth, 10th and 11th, so it’s definitely different not having him coach me. It’s nice in some ways because I don’t get yelled at every practice. But not having him coach me is my least favorite part of being here, for sure.”
“At least I still get to watch him play,” Ed Betsworth said.
Betsworth and his wife considered moving into another school district for the betterment of their son’s football career but ultimately decided against it. Apollo said he and his dad watch video of Washington’s games immediately after they are over.
“So in some ways, he’s still my coach,” he said.
“Apollo had appendicitis over the summer and had to have his appendix removed,” Ed said. “Then in July, he broke his arm. So he really started out behind the eight-ball. I’m hoping he’ll get more playing time the rest of the season.”
Apollo isn’t complaining, mind you. He realizes the quality of players at Washington and wants to do whatever he can to help make the team successful.
He said he was surprised how his new teammates were so accepting of him and immediately made him feel like he fit in. Yet there is obvious disappointment his final season of prep football couldn’t be at the place he actually goes to school.
That’s with one exception, as he takes an afternoon class at Washington.
“I’d been hearing about (CVC dropping football) all the way back in February, so it wasn’t a huge surprise,” Apollo said. “But I was very disappointed. Since it was my senior year, it was disappointing that I wouldn’t be able to play with the guys that I’d been playing with for the last three or four years.”
Ed Betsworth said he doesn’t know if Cedar Valley Christian ever will have football again.
“There’s just not a big enough enrollment for us to support a football program,” he said.
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