In some parts of the United States, high school American football is a huge deal.
Widely regarded as the third tier of the sport, after the NFL and college leagues, some matches are televised at prime time on Friday nights.
But one school from Washington is struggling to get on the pitch, with three successive opponents forfeiting matches against them.
The Wildcats from Archbishop Murphy High School (AMHS) won their first three matches this year by a combined score of 170-0.
But their next three opponents – South Whidbey, Sultan and Granite Falls – have all refused to face them.
AMHS have six players weighing at least 17 stone, including three at more than 21st, and are so dominant staff and parents from other schools are becoming increasingly concerned about player safety.
A private Catholic school, AMHS is able to recruit students from a wider catchment area than the local comprehensive schools.
“The level of athletes they’ve been able to bring in on one team doesn’t match up with a lot of the teams in our league,” said Tim Dennis, head coach of Granite Falls.
“It’s not that we’re afraid to play the game, it’s an injury issue.”
During a tense meeting of parents, players and officials, the mother of one Granite Falls player said: “My 14-year-old son is 5ft 8in and weighs 117 pounds (8st 5lbs). They’ve got 18-year-old players that are 6ft 5in and weigh 330 pounds (23st 5lbs).
“That’s like putting a Volkswagen Bug against a truck.”
But AMHS head coach Jerry Jensen said forfeiting matches did not “ring true” to what schools should be teaching their pupils.
“This is their opportunity to face adversity, power through it, and it will serve them well in their life,” he said.
AMHS play in the Cascade Conference, but there are growing calls for them to play in a higher division.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/american-football/37573514