Camden Hills High School has canceled the rest of its football season because it has too few players, the school announced Thursday.

The Windjammers (0-3) were scheduled to play a home game Saturday against Ellsworth.

“Unfortunately, dwindling numbers of players have created a serious safety issue,” principal Nick Ithomitis said in a written statement. “We are simply not willing to put any more students at risk.”

Injuries and players leaving the team have reduced the roster to the “low 20’s,” according to Athletic Director Steve Alex. But many of those players are freshmen and, Alex said, some are not ready for varsity competition.

In Camden Hills’ most recent game, a 53-14 loss to Bucksport last Saturday, the Windjammers dressed 23 players for the game – including 12 freshmen and four sophomores (three of the underclassmen were girls). During the game, eight players left with injuries. Most of them returned to action but, eventually four left the game for good. And two of them would not have been available this Saturday, according to Alex.

“We couldn’t ask kids to go out in small numbers,” said Alex, who met with Ithomitis Wednesday. The team was informed Thursday of the decision to cancel the remainder of the season.

Thad Chilton, in his first year as head coach, was not involved in Wednesday’s meeting. He wanted to keep playing.

“As a football coach, we’re the kind of people who don’t give up easily,” Chilton said. “But I respect their decision. Right behind our starters, we had a whole bunch of freshmen and inexperienced football players.”

The Windjammers have struggled since they began varsity football in 2009, with a combined 6-45 record (four of those wins coming in 2010). While Camden Hills is a Class B school with an enrollment of 669 students, it cannot attract football players. One reason is that Camden Hills sponsors five other sports for boys in the fall – soccer, cross country, golf, mountain biking and sailing.

“There’s so many fall sports, the kids are all over the place,” said senior Noah Botley, a lineman who broke his foot before the season and could not play this year. “It’s tough to get numbers (for football).”

To become more competitive, the team played against Class C teams the previous two years, but had a combined 1-15 record. The Windjammers moved down to Class D this year – playing against teams with enrollments less than 460.

“And we’re still struggling,” Alex said.

Alex did not know if the school would resume football next year, as either a varsity or junior varsity program.

“Down the road, I’m not saying we will solve that problem,” Alex said. “We will have to figure out what we’re going to do.”