The Dover High School football team was anxious to play Dobbs Ferry on Friday night. They had already broken down film of the opponent and the game plan was in place.
But plans changed.
The team received bad news in the form of a medical report on Wednesday, which led to its decision to forfeit Friday’s road game, citing a lack of depth. The Dragons lost their first three contests and, worse, were ravaged by injuries. With some of its injured players expected to return soon, Dover plans to play again Oct. 3 when it hosts Ellenville.
“We were waiting to hear about a couple kids that had to go to the doctor after (last) Saturday and it wasn’t good news,” coach Chris Lounsbury said. “For the safety of the kids, this was the decision we had to make.”
Lineman Taylor Martin suffered a broken hand that will require surgery, which means the Dragons are down to five offensive linemen. Lounsbury said he feared another injury at the position Friday would be disastrous.
“If we lost another lineman, we wouldn’t have anyone else to go in and play there,” he said. “I don’t want to put someone in a position he’s never played before. That would put that kid and teammates in danger.”
Dover, a combined team with players from Webutuck, already was short on depth with only 25 players on its varsity roster. Four of them, all starters, were lost to season-ending injuries and three others would have had to sit out their upcoming game with various ailments.
“It’s not just the injuries, but it’s been at positions where we don’t have depth,” Lounsbury said. “I’ve been (coaching) for over 20 years and never had a situation like this. You almost feel like there’s a jinx on us.”
The coach said if there is another rash of injuries, they “would have to consider” forfeiting other games, but he hopes this will be the only one. Lineman Clayton Brothers (back sprain) and linebacker Kelvin Ponce (sprained hip) are expected to return next week.
Dover does have “about 40 kids” in its modified football program, but Lounsbury said most of them are middle schoolers who “aren’t eligible or aren’t ready” to play at the varsity level.
“The players were obviously disappointed and I am too,” Lounsbury said of the forfeit. “But I’d rather give up one game than jeopardize the whole season.”
Lounsbury said his team will maintain its practice schedule this week, but the coaching staff will use the extra time to try to teach players to play other positions. The Dragons will be given the weekend off.
“We have a lot of season left after this,” Lounsbury said. “The following two games are league games and they’re important to us. We still have a chance to make the playoffs and that’s the ultimate goal.”
Stephen Haynes: email@example.com, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4