Palmer High School’s varsity football team runs onto the field Aug. 31 before the Mitchell vs. Palmer game at Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs. Palmer is low on numbers.

Thursday’s football game between Pine Creek and Palmer will feature shortened quarters as the Terrors battle low numbers of players.

According to a letter sent out to football parents by the Pine Creek booster club, Palmer strongly considered forfeiting the 4A Southern contest, but coaches came to an agreement to play a modified game. According to Pine Creek athletic director Eric Hulen, they will play six-minute quarters.

The letter states that “Palmer estimates to have 15 suited varsity players.”

"Those 15 kids are willing to play us," Hulen said. "So one of the things we wanted to do at Pine Creek is to work and adjust to what we believe is appropriate to honor the 15 kids willing to play the game."

This decision comes two weeks after Cheyenne Mountain, another 4A Southern foe, forfeited its game against Pine Creek, citing low numbers due to injury and ineligibility.

"We've been in talks with Palmer for some time now and monitoring where they are in terms of participation, and we worked with the National Federation of State High School Associations to make sure it will be a regular game," Hulen said. "We will still come out and play hard. We are going to honor the Palmer group by playing hard because they deserve that."

Palmer celebrated its first win since 2016 in a Week 2 victory over Mitchell, but has been outscored 266-12 in its next five losses.

Visit gazettepreps.com for more news and notes from high school sports around the Pikes Peak region.

In January, the Colorado High School Activities Association approved new football alignments, which placed Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain in the 4A Southern conference, requiring it to play Pine Creek each season.

CHSAANow.com released a story Wednesday morning detailing what the association plans to do to help struggling programs, forfeits and lopsided losses.

"We are looking at all options to give kids across the state an opportunity to participate in situations that can help these programs grow," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bud Ozzello, who oversees football. "We're going to look at things outside the traditional structure."

The story stated there are already discussions in the works about the next alignment, as the association will consider everything — including adding a 6A classification — to help programs improve.

"In talking with Ryan (Casey, at CHSAANow.com), we know this is a growing concern statewide and we want to do what we could to play a game and do what we believe honors Palmer and also helps them gain some momentum," Hulen said.

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