MALDEN (CBS) – It’s no secret that the Malden and Everett high schools have a long competitive rivalry when it comes to football.

However, this year the game plan has changed. In fact, now due to Malden school officials there is no game. “Hearing that it hurt because it’s something we look forward to every year,” Everett football captain Giovanni Raduazzo said.

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On Monday Malden school officials decided to forfeit this week’s game due to low numbers, injuries and size. “During the season our numbers diminished due to injuries. Only 39 active players and of them 22 of them are freshman,” Malden High School Principal Chris Mastrangelo said.

Malden and Everett High School football players (WBZ-TV)

Meanwhile Everett is 6-0. They won the Super Bowl last year and several championships over the past 20 years.

The Everett superintendent says the two schools have been playing each other since 1893. “What’s upsetting is that from 1980 to 1991 Malden beat Everett by a combined score of 365 points to 114. We never backed down out of a game and came back to play. And it’s disappointing they would take this away from these young gentlemen,” Frederick Foresteire said.

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Malden Superintendent John Oteri said it’s all about keeping his student athletes safe. “Given it’s our neighbor and long-time rival but it really boiled down to the safety of our student athletes. Many are freshman and playing football for the first time,” Oteri said.

Malden has not won a game all season. Meanwhile Everett is undefeated and getting ready for the playoffs. “They have a legit concern with not enough players so let’s get ready for next week,” Everett Head Coach Theluxon Pierre said.

Malden still has four more games to play but this is the first time they’ve had to forfeit. “We are putting them in a position where we can’t guarantee that they’re going to be OK from a safety standpoint,” Mastrangelo said.

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For both teams it seems like it’s back to the drawing board. “Our intentions are never to injure or risk anyone safety, we play football because we love the game,” Raduazzo said.

Paul Burton