Spingarn High School football coach Mike Johnson said he will know by the end of this week if the school will field a team this season.

For the second straight year Spingarn's season is threatened with cancellation because of a lack of players. Johnson, in his second year as head coach, said he met with the entire boys student body yesterday to try to recruit more players.

"I asked for any kids interested in playing to report {yesterday} afternoon after school," Johnson said, following the first day of classes at the Northeast Washington school. "I would guess about 50 kids came back. But now we have to determine how many are eligible. They have to get physical examinations, we have to check grades, etc. Then we will see what we have.

"There are a number of reasons why the kids don't come out and I'm almost at wits end to explain the situation. Many kids think only about playing basketball, others can't make the 2.0 {grade point average needed to be eligible for varsity athletics}, others work. I started out with about 21 kids, but now I'm down to about 11. A lot of kids just stopped coming. Even a few of the kids I counted on returning from last year haven't showed up."

D.C. Interhigh League athletic director Otto Jordan said he knows Spingarn is having problems and is hopeful Johnson will not have to cancel the season.

"I know he is making a bona fide effort to save the program," Jordan said. "He didn't get many kids out this summer but he should see a big difference when school opens. Now, if no students report this week, then I'll get concerned."

Despite the shortage of players last year, Johnson worked feverishly to have a program. A number of players joined the team after school opened and Spingarn played its league schedule, finishing 1-5.

Once again, Johnson has had to cancel nonleague games in September, forcing his scheduled opponents to scurry to find replacements.

"I know they aren't happy about it," Johnson said. "I didn't want to do that, but what could I do? Coolidge {Friday's scheduled opponent} didn't have that many nonleague games to begin with and now they don't even have us."