"We are dropping down to a JV program this year," Cardinal said. "We came to that decision over the weekend."
At last count, Calvary Christian had 26 varsity players. Last year's team had between 27 and 30.
"The number isn't the issue," Cardinal said. "It's more the makeup of the team. We were so small and inexperienced. A lot of the kids were freshmen and sophomores, and some of them had never played organized football before."
Cardinal said the Northeast Philadelphia school has an enrollment of about 320 students (boys and girls) in grades nine through 12. It had only six seniors on the varsity. That's half of last year's total.
The Cougars, who began playing varsity football in 1999, are scheduled to host Bicentennial Athletic League rival member Bristol in a JV contest at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Bristol's varsity, like all other scheduled opponents, will be awarded a forfeit victory.
Will Calvary Christian's seniors be able to suit up?
"In our league, we don't have a rule that seniors can't play JV ball," Cardinal said. "We'll leave that up to the schools we play. Just as we were concerned about our kids' safety, we don't want to put other teams at risk."
The Cougars, coached by former Eagles linebacker Mike Reichenbach, went 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the BAL last season. They beat Delaware County Christian for their second straight District 1 title. They were eliminated by District 11's Pius X in the first round of states.
"The plan, definitely, is to have a varsity program next year," Cardinal said. "We're going to do everything we can, especially when it comes to helping our younger players progress, to get back on the field."
In 2010, Calvary Christian downed BAL rival Morrisville for top district honors. The year prior, the team beat High School of the Future, of the Public League, in a District 1-12 subregional final.
Moving on. Father Judge returned home Sunday night from Ireland, where it lost to Notre Dame Prep (Ariz.), 20-6, at Pairc Tailteann Stadium in Navan.
"I thought the trip was a fantastic experience," Crusaders coach Tommy Coyle said. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we were able to take advantage of it."
Connor Foley accounted for all of Judge's scoring, hitting a pair of field goals.
"I knew, going into it, that Notre Dame was a good football team," Coyle said. "We knew we would have our hands full."
The Crusaders, hurt by turnovers against the Saints, have since turned their attention to Friday night's nonleague game at Council Rock South. Last year, in a scorcher at Lincoln High, the Golden Hawks eked out a 35-34 win.
Of the little time to prepare for C.R. South, whose wishbone attack netted 320 yards against Judge last season, Coyle said, "It's very difficult. We've got to get ourselves ready to play in a hurry. There's no time to feel sorry for yourself."
Coyle said the Crusaders "have to get healthy." Marquis Seamon, a junior tailback and cornerback, suffered a broken wrist in the third quarter vs. Notre Dame.
Alex Jur, a 6-2, 255-pound senior offensive tackle, is sidelined with concussion-like symptoms. Trent Turpin, a 6-0, 240-pound senior offensive guard, suffered an injured shoulder in training camp. Both could be lost for the season.
Quotable. Miami Dolphins tight ends coach Dan Campbell, on HBO's "Hard Knocks," on third-string quarterback Pat Devlin, who starred at Downingtown East and Delaware: "He reminds me of [Dallas Cowboys QB Tony] Romo. Romo was just like him before he started."
Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone