It's not entirely unique when a high school football team forfeits a game. After all, scheduling issues arise, weather intervenes, and any among a host of other issues can throw off a scheduled matchup. Forfeiting a game at halftime, however, is a rare occurrence.
Yet that's precisely what happened last Friday in Washington state, where West Seattle pulled out a white flag of surrender at halftime during a game against O'Dea (Wash.) High School. Yes, the Wildcats were trailing 48-0 through two quarters, but the reason West Seattle coach Davis Lura called off the game wasn't because of the scoreboard. Rather, it was because of a sheer lack of players. Despite starting the season with a 36-member varsity squad, West Seattle was down to just 11 healthy players at halftime against O'Dea, a disaster scenario that was the product of academic ineligibility and six game-ending injuries in the first half.
"The kids were ready for something like this," Lura told the Seattle Times. "They know the score. We told them, 'Hey guys, if it comes down to it, I'm going to protect you guys.' That doesn't mean it didn't upset the kids because they're competitors. We talked and said, 'This is a situation we can't control. It's nobody's fault.'
"No coach wants to make that decision. Safety is the No. 1 decision in high school sports for me."
Of course, West Seattle isn't the only program to deal with small numbers on the sidelines. On Thursday, Hannan (W. Va.) High School was forced to forfeit this week's matchup with Buffalo (W. Va.) High because of a rash of serious injuries. Just down the Pacific coast from West Seattle, the Sacramento Bee reported that three teams near the state capital are struggling to field enough players but are still finding ways to remain competitive.
Unfortunately, California ingenuity can't help the Wildcats, who are left to try and put one of the most ignominious moments in school history behind them while trying to salvage their season. West Seattle still has the chance to get a lot out of 2010, too. Despite an 0-3 start -- three brutal losses each by 30 points or more -- the Wildcats still have five games remaining. Lura, for one, said he was sure his team could compete if its expected roster is ever healthy and eligible.
"They know what's up," Lura told the Seattle Times. "They know once we're full force, we've got a good football team."
West Seattle gets another chance to prove that Friday night, when it hosts Franklin (Wash.) High School.
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