DERBY, Conn. (WTNH) — Derby High School plans to forfeit its remaining five varsity football games this season.

A press release from the school’s athletic department Sunday said the school will forfeit its games against Oxford, Seymour, Ansonia, Gilbert and Shelton due to the current number of eligible healthy players.

They have a beautiful field, and one of the oldest rivalries in high school football, but what Derby High School does not have is enough healthy players. So, the official season is now over, they have to forfeit the rest of their games.

The football spirit is there in Derby, but not only is this year’s squad 0-5 on the season so far, it is also small, and it skews very young with lots of freshmen and few seniors. Increasingly those playing were getting injured. The coach and athletic director have a responsibility to keep the players safe.

“Unfortunately, the last two games that we played, we had more guys coming off the field, more frequent visits on the field by our athletic trainer,” explained Derby Athletic Director Teg Cosgriff.

The team will keep practicing, but the more than 100-year tradition of a Thanksgiving Day game against Shelton will have to wait.

While they’ve forfeited official games, they will scrimmage neighboring Ansonia in a game that will highlight the few seniors on the squad. A committee has actually been looking into combining the Ansonia and Derby school districts. Combining football programs could be a factor in that discussion because the Naugatuck Valley has always been crazy about high school football. Derby still is, even though they went from no games last year to just five now this year.

“You know, our kids never stopped fighting and battling and they still don’t stop fighting today,” said Derby Head Football Coach Steve Bainer. “That’s just a testament to what valley football is all about, and what our guys, being a Derby Red Raider and a student athlete in general is all about right now.”

They are trying to arrange a second scrimmage before Thanksgiving so that even if the kids can’t get in an official game, at least the players will get a chance to do a little playing before football season is over.