A football program that serves as the pride of a tiny Idaho town has been forced to cancel the remainder of its season for incredibly practical but extremely rare reasons: It suffered so many injuries that it can no longer field a complete team.
As first reported by the Magic Valley Times-News and followed upon by the Associated Press and other outlets, tiny Murtaugh (Idaho) High was forced to cancel the remainder of its eight-man football season after an inexplicably rapid rash of injuries left it with only six healthy players. The drastic influx of injuries occurred in a game against Rimrock (Idaho) High, when six of the team's 12 players were all injured during the game's first three periods.
The Rimrock contest was eventually forfeited before the conclusion of the third period with Murtaugh unable to field a full team. While there was hope that some of the team's injured players would recuperate in time to compete the following week, Murtaugh was still only able to add one more healthy player, leaving the team with little option but to forfeit its final two games of the season.
"I would love to finish out this season," Murtaugh junior Tyson Wilkins, told the Times-News. "The others, it would take a lot of persuasion to get them out to play. But they wouldn't come out and play their full heart into the game, that's the one problem that we face with some of the kids that were hurt."
The official decision to forfeit the team's remaining slate was made at a Murtaugh school board meeting, where officials cited a desire to avoid further potential injuries and safeguard the health of the school's students as primary motivating factors in cancelling the final four games of the team's slate.
Now, with the 2012 season brought to a sudden and unceremonious conclusion, concern has turned to the 2013 campaign and whether the Red Devils can reasonably be expected to field a team again. The town's school board raised the possibility of establishing a co-op program with another school to add a number of additional players, thereby decreasing the potential of having to call off a season due to injuries again.
For the time being, no decisions have made. Still, players like Wilkins are now left to ponder what could have been and what still may come in their future with uncertain allegiances with other schools or another struggle to get enough players to field a team on the horizon.
"To be deadly honest, I would probably vote to co-op with another team, just because I see our seniors this year and what they are being put through and I don't want that to happen to us," Wilkins said.