CARO, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A mid-Michigan high school has ended its varsity football season early due to player injuries.

Caro High School has canceled the rest of its season with just three games left to play. Superintendent Mike Joslyn said three players had concussions and four or five others suffered season-ending injuries.

“We’re really risking too much,” Joslyn told WEYI-TV.

Joslyn said varsity coaches had been forced to move up younger players who were smaller than their older opponents.

“We have a low number of juniors and seniors and a high number of freshmen and sophomores, and so every time we lose another athlete at the varsity level, we have to move up another sophomore,” he told WWJ’s Beth Fisher. “Our juniors and seniors have been depleted so much that we continue to have to pull up sophomores, which puts them at risk of playing out of their age group and skill set.”

The head coach eventually came to Joslyn and expressed concerns about his team’s safety.

“It’s not about wins and losses. It’s not about points on the scoreboard,” Joslyn said. “They’re just not physically and emotionally prepared for that level.”

Two-thirds of the players supported the decision to end the season.

“With seniors, it’s their final stint but I think they understand the decision,” Joslyn said. “Kids are losing out both at the senior and junior level but it’s really because our kids have been depleted. It’s very frustrating for everybody involved.”

The remaining varsity roster was moved down to play on the junior varsity team — a move that isn’t sitting well with some of their competitors.

“There’s two teams in our league that we’re participating against, they don’t want the juniors playing on the JV team,” Joslyn said. “We understand, it’s kind of the same thing — we don’t necessarily want sophomores having to compete against seniors — so we understand the concern safety-wise.”

Joslyn said the district plans to have a full varsity season next year.

“We don’t want to be seen as the team that’s quitting, the school that’s quitting. We’re just taking a step back for safety reason and with the hope of the future,” he said. “We feel really, really bad about the situation for our kids, our community and the communities around us, I mean, they’re losing out on football games too. We just hope that people understand that this wasn’t just a snap decision because we were losing games. It’s really about student safety.”

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