The Malden High School varsity football team has forfeited its annual and much celebrated game against its longtime rivals from Everett — scheduled for Friday — because of concerns about player safety, given the size of its team that’s already suffered numerous injuries this season, school officials said.
The decision was made due to several factors, Principal Chris Mastrangelo said in a statement shared with Boston.com Tuesday.
“Our program has suffered a number of injuries that has diminished the student-athletes who are available to compete in the scheduled game,” he said. “Currently more than half of our 39 available players are freshmen. The roster size in a game that requires physical contact could not be ignored and shaped my decision.”
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Malden has forfeited Friday's football game vs. Everett. There will NOT be a game this Friday, October 19. The playoffs begin on Friday, October 26 when Everett will likely to host a quarterfinal game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
— EverettMASchools (@EverettMASchool) October 16, 2018
Malden’s recusal splinters the cycle of a longstanding tradition between the two teams, who have faced off on the field since 1893, according to Everett Superintendent Frederick Foresteire.
The last time the two missed their annual game was over 90 years ago in 1927, he said. He put the spectacle of the yearly contest on par with a Thanksgiving Day game — a competition that even attracts former residents back to the sidelines.
“It’s not a question of who wins or who loses … the point is the people from the communities come together,” Foresteire, who was very disappointed by the decision, said in an interview.
Malden beat Everett for a decade straight at one point in time, according to Foresteire, but he said they still returned to the field every season against their rivals.
“We never backed down,” he said. “We came back every year to play.”
Everett, however, has held a firm, two-decade advantage over Malden, having lost only one of the annual games between 1991 and 2015.
This year, the two teams have had significantly different seasons. Everett is currently undefeated, while Malden has not won a game to date.
Mastrangelo said the decision to forfeit was based solely on the safety of the team’s players.
The team and its coaches have “continued to compete in practice and on the field despite the disparities” in players, he said, adding that he’s proud of their efforts both on the field and in class.
“I wish Everett the best of luck in the upcoming play-off system. We will be back on the field when the play-off system proceeds on October 26 competing against teams with similar roster sizes and records,” he said. “We look forward to completing our season, culminating with the Thanksgiving Day game against Medford.”
Foresteire, who expects the tradition to pick up again next year, said Everett “certainly had no intentions of playing our starting team” against Malden.
He added that Everett also has freshman and sophomore players who coaches are looking to grow in the program.
“It gives them all an opportunity to play,” he said.