Faced with a football roster depleted by injuries and disciplinary dismissals, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School administrators decided Thursday to forfeit the end of the varsity football season, including the Island Cup against rival Nantucket High School.

The Vineyarders will end the season Friday evening with their ninth game of the year, Senior Night, against Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical School.

With a record of 1-7, the team’s only win this year came against Atlantis Charter School, which forfeited its scheduled Sept. 22 game against the Vineyarders because it didn’t have enough players to field a team.

Athletic director Mark McCarthy said the decision came after discussions this week with first year head coach Ryan Kent and principal Sara Dingledy.

“It was not one we took very lightly,” Mr. McCarthy said of the decision. “We’re not very happy with the fact that we had to do it. As hard as it has been to make this decision, we felt that it was probably the safest one to make. We’ve had broken ribs, we’ve had knees, we’ve had a couple kids with concussions. That’s what happens in football. You do have injuries. With low numbers to start, it contributed to this decision.”

A total of 36 students tried out for football at the beginning of the year. That was not enough players to field both a varsity and junior varsity squad, so the school decided to curtail the junior varsity season.

This week, the team was down to about 20 players, with six of the youngest players on the roster who would not be expected to play.

“It’s not completely due to injuries,” said Mr. McCarthy. “We’ve had kids that have been dismissed or left the team on their own accord, then you do have the injuries. Then you have several kids, we don’t feel they’re ready to play at the varsity level. We wouldn’t put them in a starting varsity situation. They’re freshmen and we don’t believe they’re ready to play. That takes away the number of kids you have in pads that you’re actually going to put in a game.”

Coach Kent said the main reason for the decision to forfeit the last two games was because of injuries, although there also were some players suspended or dismissed for disciplinary factors.

The head coach said forfeiting the Nantucket game was especially difficult.

“I looked forward to it, the kids do,” Coach Kent said. “Both Islands look forward to it. It’s a huge disappointment, not only for our Island, but I definitely considered their team as well. This wasn’t the only team I was thinking about. I thought about their players and their coach as well.”

Coach Ryan met with the Martha’s Vineyard Touchdown Club, the Island’s football booster organization, Wednesday evening.

“There are a lot of parents in the booster club, and they were visibly upset, but they were understanding,” said Louis Paciello, president of the club.

Fielding football teams has become increasingly difficult for small schools like the Vineyard regional high school, as the popularity of the sport wanes compared with other high school sports.

The only other time the Island Cup was not played since the inception of the Vineyard-Nantucket football rivalry was in 2009. That year, Nantucket declined to schedule the season finale game following a year when the number of players on the Nantucket team dwindled.

Mr. Paciello said this week’s developments came as no surprise to him, since the team started with about half the number of players that once filled out the high school football rosters.

“It goes way beyond injuries, it’s the current culture,” he said. “You had, 10 years ago, the move into a league where it was hard for us to compete, especially with the numbers dwindling. You had the retirement of a longtime successful coach. We’ve had two different head coaches in the past two years. This is our second losing season. You had insurmountable discipline issues this year. Kids just aren’t dedicated, a lot of them got in trouble with drugs and alcohol. When you put that all together, it’s literally the perfect storm.”

Mr. Paciello said he is concerned about the viability of the high school football program, and has been for some time.

“We’re unable to field a competitive team safely,” he said. “It’s sad for a lot of us that have worked, coaches, boosters, parents, that have worked our butts off. I saw the writing on the wall years ago. We’ve been trying everything to change it. We’re searching for the answers to try to turn it around. I’m not quite sure what the answers will be.”

Mr. McCarthy said the football program has gone through cycles over the years. He pointed out that after a trying phase in the 1980s, the team regained popularity and won five state championships.

The athletic director said he will develop a plan to make sure the discouraging end to the 2017-2018 season does not lead to a further downward spiral next year.

“We hope that’s not going to be the case,” Mr. McCarthy said. “We’re going to start meeting with the Island football community as soon as we get through with the year and see what we can do to get the participation levels back up to where we need them. Our plan is to be back next year. Our plan is to get stronger, be better.”