Shorthanded Mapletown forfeits Week 1 game against Clairton

September 23, 2018

Another injury or two could doom Mapletown’s football season, so the school decided to forfeit this week’s nonconference game with powerhouse Clairton.

“It’s going to be a decision that a lot of people are in favor of, and it’s going to be a decision that a lot of people are going to have a problem with,” said Mapletown athletic director Linda Messich, whose husband George coaches the football team.

The teams were scheduled to play Friday at Mapletown.

Had this week been against a conference opponent, “I think we would have had to look at it differently,” she said, but the Maples already were dangerously short-handed.

“We don’t have enough kids to put on the field,” Messich said. “I think we had 18 kids (at practice Monday). Two are out indefinitely. Two are out for a certain length of time. We were so small to start with, we couldn’t afford any injuries. We were afraid of this from the beginning.”

Mapletown and Avella are tied as the fourth-smallest football schools in the PIAA with 61 boys in grades 9-11. The PIAA uses those three class sizes to determine a team’s classification.

Mapletown finished 3-6 overall last season, 2-6 in the Class A Tri-County South. The Maples started this season with a 14-12 loss to Avella in Week Zero.

The decision to forfeit was made Monday.

“I met with the superintendent, I met with the trainer and I met with the principal,” Messich said. “We felt that we had to do it for kids’ sake.”

Mapletown and Avella approached the WPIAL in recent months with concerns about their nonconference schedules. The WPIAL matched Mapletown with Clairton, and Avella drew Jeannette, the defending WPIAL and PIAA Class A champion.

Coaches from the two small schools asked the WPIAL to reconsider how it assigns nonconference matchups. The WPIAL currently uses a computer program to create the schedules.

“I disagree with the way the schedule’s set up,” said Messich, a member of the WPIAL board of directors. “I think there’s got to be a human factor instead of it being just computer generated.”

Messich said she believes Mapletown will play Week 2 against conference opponent Jefferson-Morgan and, if all goes well, fulfill the rest of its schedule.

“We plan to,” Messich said. “One kid is back on the second and another kid is back that next week. It’s just a numbers game with us.”

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