Banged up Tigers forfeit game to Blue Devils

News File Photo Alcona quarterback Zach Stephenson (16) flips a ball on an option play before being trackled by Oscoda defender Robert Host (18) during a North Star League football game at Alcona High School.

With almost a third of its roster not medically cleared to play this week, the Alcona football team has forfeited its game with Sault Ste. Marie on Friday.

Alcona made the decision Tuesday afternoon after several players went to the doctor on Monday and updated Alcona coach Jason Somers on their status. Alcona officials talked to Sault Ste. Marie officials to let them know of the situation and the decision was announced just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Somers said of the 17 players on Alcona’s varsity roster, five have been ruled out this week due to injuries. Some of them will be cleared for next week and if everything works out, the Tigers should have a full roster in two weeks.

Gving players a chance to heal will help them get healthy and will also ensure the Tigers are able to field a team for the rest of the season.

“This decision was the hardest thing I have had to do, but the kids and their health will alway be my number one priority,” Somers said. “The message to the team is that their health and well being is my top priority; football is great, but never to the point that high school athletes would be put at risk.”

Alcona began the season with 17 players on its varsity roster, including six sophomores. Alcona Athletic Director Rachel Somers said Alcona does have some JV players who could be called up to varsity to play, but most of those remaining are freshmen and Alcona didn’t want to risk injury to those players either by having them play up a level.

“This was a extremely well thought out and difficult decision for all involved,” Rachel Somers said. “The decision was about what was in the best interest of the students that were going to be playing and it was decided that it would be best if they played their level instead of being pulled up and risking injury to players that are not necessarily ready for varsity level competition.”

The last time Alcona forfeited a game was in 2004 to Cheboygan due to an outbreak of mononucleosis at Alcona High School.

The loss puts the Tigers at 0-4 for the year. Alcona’s next game is Sept. 21 at Whittemore-Prescott.

With an extra week to practice and heal up, the Tigers are gearing up for the final five weeks of the season. Despite having to forfeit a game, Jason Somers said he’s been impressed by the response of his players this week.

“We spoke about getting ready and to make the next five weeks the best that we can as we intend to finish the remainder of the season. Their response to this is the real gift to me; the healthy players have been out giving their best effort every day at practice as well as all injured players attending all week,” Somers said. “It says everything about who they are as people and how much they care about each other and their school. In the midst of this setback I could not be more proud of these young men.”