ALTON - Marquette Catholic High School has canceled Friday night's home game against Columbia because of injuries to its limited roster.

The Explorers have a very young varsity football team and after some injuries to key players that will limit the number of players available, the athletic department made a decision to not play the home encounter. Most of the injured players are expected to return for the school's homecoming game on September 16.

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Brian Hoener, Marquette’s director of athletics, said it was a “difficult decision,” but one he and others affiliated with Marquette felt they had to do. He said the Columbia athletic director was "very understanding" about the situation.

“The health and safety of our players are at the forefront of every decision we make, including this one, and our focus remains on the long-term growth of the program,” Hoener said. “We have a great group of dedicated players, with good numbers in our freshman class, with strong interest among future Explorers in seventh and eighth grade. We look forward to having our players back and healthy for our homecoming game against Breese Mater Dei on Friday, September 16.”

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Hoener stressed Marquette has the biggest freshman class of football players in the past five to six years and has talent in the younger levels who will come into the program, so there is no discussion about the suspension of the program.

“We are always looking for additional players and it is not too late for someone to sign up,” Hoener said.

Marquette Catholic Principal Tim Harmon said he also sees hope for the Explorers’ football future with so many talented freshmen and underclassmen on the squad.

“We knew we had to be more concerned about the student’s well-being and safety for this week’s game, so we believe it is the right decision,” he said.

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