One of the nation's top high school football programs, Del Ray (Fla.) American Heritage School, won't get a chance to partake in two of the most traditional parts of a high school football season after its homecoming and senior night game, scheduled for Friday night, was called off when RivalsHigh 100 No. 29 American Heritage's scheduled opponent, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Calvary Christian School forfeited because of a concern over player safety.
As noted by the Palm Beach Post, Calvary Christian features a 22-man squad, enough for each player to start at just one position. With that in mind, there could only be one justification for the forfeit: the Fort Lauderdale school feared that it was so overmatched that it's players would be at significant risk of injury.
"It's a little frustrating," American Heritage coach Stacy Sizemore told the Post. "We've only had two home games. Obviously we don't want anyone to get hurt, but this was our homecoming game. It affects our school. It was senior night and homecoming."
Calvary Christian's last-ditch forfeit isn't the first time that a school has backed out of a matchup with a high-profile foe citing the somewhat questionable rationale of "player safety." Notably, earlier in the 2012 season, Kearney (N.J.) High forfeited a game with Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter's Prep citing player safety.
In both cases, the ire of the team receiving the forfeit was stoked by the late notification as much as anything else. American Heritage in particular is distraught that its student body may miss out on two big football traditions that had been rolled into one evening.
"We're trying to scramble and find something else to help our student body out," Sizemore told the Post. "They just called us [Tuesday]. We'll try to do something for the kids."