Falmouth High announced Tuesday it will forfeit this week’s varsity football game against Portland, citing a low number of available players because of injuries.

“Several players have sustained injuries in the past few weeks, putting us in a situation where it’s unsafe to field a varsity team on Friday. Student-athlete safety is always our top priority,” the school announced in a release.

After reaching the Class B North championship game last year, the Navigators lost their first three games this season. Following last Friday’s 20-0 loss at Gardiner, coaches met with players for their regular weekly meeting Sunday. Coach John Fitzsimmons and his assistants met with each player who has sustained injury, then met as a staff. On Monday, the coaches met with the team to explain the situation and decision.

“We continue to monitor our student-athletes’ recovery. It is our hope and plan at this time that we will finish our regular season schedule,” the Falmouth release reads.

In the preseason, Fitzsimmons said he had 31 varsity players on the roster, and planned to start eight sophomores on both sides of the ball.

The Navigators are scheduled to play at Deering on Sept. 29. Falmouth also has scheduled games remaining at home against Mt. Blue (Oct. 6) and Cony (Oct. 13), and close the regular season at Skowhegan (Oct. 20).


Mike Burnham, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association’s Interscholastic Division, said Falmouth has sent an email to the football committee requesting a forfeit this week against Portland, with a return to play against Deering the following week.

Portland Coach Sean Green said he and his team are disappointed, especially since the team already has a bye week scheduled for Week 8 of its nine-week regular season in Class A. With no game on Friday night, the Bulldogs will begin to prepare for their Sept. 29 game against Windham.

“It’s definitely an unfortunate situation for everybody involved,” Green said. “All we can do is control what we can control, and that’s getting ready for Windham.”

Green and many of his assistant coaches encountered a similar situation early in the 2021 season, when a game against Hermon was canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Hermon locker room. At least 19 football games were canceled in just the first three weeks of the 2021 football season because of COVID outbreaks, including two involving Falmouth. Those games were considered no contests in the Crabtree standings because of illness. This one will go down as a win for the Bulldogs. Still, Green would rather it be played.

“For us, those are valuable reps we’re going to lose. We’ll crank it up in practice,” he said.

From 2012 to 2016, five varsity football programs in Maine had to stop playing when small rosters and injuries led to a point where administrators felt it was no longer safe: Boothbay in 2016, Telstar and Camden Hills in 2015, Sacopee Valley in 2013 and Calais/Woodland in 2012. That prompted the creation of the developmental Class E in 2017. That year, Traip Academy suspended its team after three weeks in Class E because of low numbers and safety concerns.

In 2018, Greely High halted its program after the season because its expected roster was pegged at no more than 15 players. Greely players joined a co-operative with Falmouth for the 2019 and 2021 seasons (there was no tackle football played in 2020) before restarting their own program as an eight-man team in 2022.

In 2019, two Class D 11-man teams canceled varsity seasons because of small rosters. Orono made the decision in the preseason, Dirigo stopped after one week. Both programs have moved to eight-man football.

Comments are no longer available on this story