The McKinleyville football team has been working with a small roster all season long and as injuries have piled up early in the year, the Panthers found itself too shorthanded to field a team against Del Norte on Friday and was forced to forfeit the game.

“We have had a small roster all season,” said McKinleyville athletics director Dustin Dutra in a statement to the Triplicate. “Unfortunately, we have suffered a number of injuries over the course of the last couple of weeks, most notably five athletes still in concussion protocol. We do not have 11 healthy players to suit up this week.

“Moving JV players up to varsity is not an option either because many of them are physically not ready for the varsity level of play. We are not going to compromise the health and safety of the players in our program.”

Although Del Norte is awarded the win, improving to 2-3 overall this season, Nova was a little disappointed that the team wasn’t able to suit up on Friday.

“It is not a pleasant thing, but I understand the situation where kids are hurt on a small squad,” said Del Norte head coach Lewis Nova. “Being selfish on our part, it was a game that we were looking forward to to get the league started and to get us back in the groove.”

Nova said the team is considering trying to add a game during the bye week on Oct. 20, but nothing has been finalized yet.

The Warriors are scheduled to be back in action next Friday for a homecoming showdown in Crescent City with Fortuna.