By Ron Rop

MUSKEGON – It’s been a rather cloudy situation regarding the 2023 football season at Muskegon Heights in recent weeks.

But, after extensive discussions, the Tigers will play 11-man football this fall. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon by Muskegon Heights athletic director Del Stewart.

Discussions in recent days centered around whether to play traditional 11-man football, go to the 8-man format or cancel the season altogether.

The team will be coached by DaQuante Caviness, who has been around high school football for several years, but this is his first shot at being a head coach. Caviness has been leading his team through workouts in recent days in anticipation of playing this season.

According to Stewart, one of the biggest concerns was having a team made up of a significant number of underclassmen who would be going head-to-head against bigger older players from opposing teams. That makes safety a huge concern for the Heights administration.

The number of players also has been influx in recent weeks.

“It’s been a tug of war,” Stewart said. “Being that we are classified as Division 8, the overall number of boys interested in playing in the first place is smaller based on that. That was the beginning of the consideration for 8-man.

Presently, the Tigers expect a roster of 15-20, which has been the norm in recent years.

“Being outside of a league and wanting to show the utmost respect for our opponent, we don’t want to leave them in a position where their kids don’t have the opportunity to participate on Friday night,” said Stewart. Currently, the Tigers have an eight-game schedule with a vacancy in Week 2.

Stewart said he’s been attempting to fill that slot, but he’s been seeing Division 1 teams as his only option in recent weeks. After contacting the MHSAA, Stewart now has some smaller schools who may be able to fill that void in the schedule.

With Week 2 so close, Stewart said they could very well opt to stay idle that week.