A high school in Frederick, Maryland, canceled its varsity football season after injuries left it with not enough players.
The Thomas Johnson High School Patriots played for the Maryland state championship as recently as 2011 and won the state title in 1982.
The team started with just 22 players. Injuries in its first game reduced the roster to 14.
“I graduated from TJ,” coach Bobby Humphries said. “I remember coming from the same school. I remember coming as a seventh and eighth grader just to watch varsity football, and right now that atmosphere is not the same.”
The rest of the varsity season was canceled out of concern for the players’ safety.
“You're always concerned about issues with concussions and things like that could be a deterrent,” athletic director Mike Chavez said. “We haven't seen it. I don't know if that's an issue underlying. I've never asked our players who aren’t playing why they don’t play.”
The junior varsity team is still playing, and the school got a special waiver allowing juniors to play with the JV, but not seniors. Their season is over.
“I'm disappointed for the upperclassmen,” said Yvette Pearch, the mother of a player. “At least my child as a freshman can still play JV, and he has the rest of his high school career to look forward to.”
“It's definitely a very sad time for us, especially our seniors, who realize that this is their last chance to play high school football,” said Benjamin Pearch, a varsity player now playing JV. “And even for me as a just as freshman who’s still got four years, it still hurt me that we get this beautiful opportunity that we had just get taken away from us.”
Thomas Johnson hopes to be able to field a varsity team next season.