A small town high school football team is forfeiting its first round playoff game next week after participation levels dropped to a dangerous low.
Lyle Public School made the announcement on Thursday, commending the grit and determination the players and coaching staff showed in a hard-fought loss in their regular season finale – a game in which they had only 12 players.
"Last night, the Lyle-Pacelli fans experienced the true intent of high school sports – a demonstration of grit, loyalty to brotherhood, strong character, and true love for the game of football. 12 young men faced high adversity against one of the top teams in the state and played the best game of the year. The Lyle Pacelli community expresses our deepest appreciation to our coaching staff, players and managers. Despite this, due to the low participation numbers and in the interest of player safety, the coaching staff, in consultation with administration, has decided to forfeit our playoff game against Spring Grove on Tuesday."
The small school located one mile north of the Iowa border in Freeborn County hung with Houston High School on Wednesday night, taking a 22-20 lead into the half before ultimately losing 40-22 to one of the top-ranked teams in Minnesota's 9-man football class.
Just 12 players meant they only had three substitutes at any given time. The safety concerns that come with that were the driving factor in the decision to forfeit the playoff game, which was scheduled for Tuesday against No. 1 Spring Grove.
Spring Grove is the defending 9-man state champion and has won 22 consecutive games.
Recently, Ridgewater College in Willmar decided to pull the plug on its football season due to a lower-than-expected participation rate caused by dropouts, injuries and suspensions. The community college in west-central Minnesota has yet to decide if it will have a football team in the future.