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Mapletown High School has cancelled Friday night’s nonconference home football game against Clairton because of a lack of players.

Linda Messich, Mapletown’s athletic director, said the team had only 14 available players after a rash of injuries in a Week Zero loss at Avella.

“Our numbers are so low now,” Messich said. “It’s unfortunate but we felt like we had to make the call.”

Messich met with the school’s superintendent and principal before making the decision to cancel the game.

“We’ve been close, but we’ve never had to do this before,” Messich said. “I hope we never have to do it again.”

Mapletown is a Class A team and is tied with Avella for the fourth-lowest boys enrollment among all football-playing schools in the PIAA. Messich said the junior class is especially small, just 26 students.

Messich said the school wanted to make a decision early enough in the week so that Clairton would have some time to find a replacement game.

“We contacted the WPIAL,” Messich said. “They said it counts as a win for Clairton and a loss for us. Clairton also wanted us to send them a formal letter of the cancellation.”

Mapletown football coach George Messich said he first became concerned about the team’s health following the Avella game, a 14-12 loss for the Maples.

“I looked around in the locker room after the game and saw so many kids getting iced up,” he said. “That made me concerned.”

George Messich said five players suffered injuries that would keep them from playing, leaving just 14 able bodies against Clairton.

“I think four of the five can play next week,” George Messich said of the Tri-County South Conference home game against Jefferson-Morgan.

George Messich said practice does not include much hitting. Usually, assistant coaches are used to hold rubber shields for the linemen to block. A foam landing pad is used for tackling drills.

“We concentrate on technique,” the football coach said. “We’re used to this. It’s just the situation we’re in.”

This is the second week in a row a game has been cancelled in this area. The Week Zero matchup between Monessen and Charleroi was cancelled when threats were allegedly made the day of the game.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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