ANACORTES, Wash. — Anacortes High School has canceled its 2019 football season months in advance.

"It's a difficult decision, an emotional decision," said Anacortes Athletic Director Erik Titus on Friday.

He explained that enrollment projections for the fall only showed a roster with 10 juniors and seniors. 

He and his staff made a conscious decision that it would not want to field a team with freshman and sophomores, or as Titus puts it, "14- and 15-year-old males against 17- and 18-year-old males." 

Titus says the risk of injury to the younger students was high, and the school didn't feel it was fair to anyone involved.   

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So why are there are so few students playing football? 

He says the safety of the sport is definitely a factor and that some students are choosing to play tennis or run cross-country instead. 

The Skagit County city population also trends older than most. Enrollment is down from a peak in the early 2000's, but Titus believes there will be enough students to play for the squad in the highly competitive Northwest Conference in 2020.  

The students who wanted to suit up for Anacortes will be able to play for Mount Vernon High School in 2019, if they wish.

Titus also said administrators have thought about the unintended consequences of the move for events like homecoming or the cheer and band programs.

That's why a few JV games will be scheduled to allow for the "Friday night experience," including homecoming.