Anne Arundel Community College has forfeited tonight's scheduled game with Montgomery College-Rockville because Pioneers Coach Alan Pastrana feared for the safety of his players, who had dwindled considerably in numbers over the past two weeks.

Anne Arundel, which has a 1-6 record, last weekend lost, 33-7, to the Military Academy Prep School. Pastrana, whose team had 45 players at the start of the season, said he would have had only 22 players available this week for the scheduled home game against the Knights. Montgomery-Rockville (5-1) has won five straight games and is ranked 11th among the nation's junior colleges.

"Montgomery College is just too powerful for us at this particular time," said Pastrana, who has coached Anne Arundel for 17 years and finished 4-4 last season. "As a physical education professor, I just couldn't play this game. My only concern was the safety of my players. We had been competitive, but we have a small number of players and they are inexperienced."

Pastrana said he made the decision to cancel this week's game, the final one on Anne Arundel's schedule, at halftime of last week's game. His team trailed MAPS, 33-0, at the time.

"I looked down the bench and just asked those kids to give all they had {in the second half} and not worry about next week," Pastrana said. "We outscored them, 7-0, in the second half and had a very good bus ride home."

Pastrana said he has had no regrets about his decision as this week wore on, although he has been bothered by some criticism he has received from the community.

"It is not the end of the world and we will be back next year," he said. "The players were disappointed, but they understood. Ninety percent of them were still in study halls this week, and to me, that's what it is really all about."

Montgomery-Rockville Coach Phil Martin agreed with Pastrana's decision.

"He is one of my best friends in the coaching business, and I understand what Alan is going through," said Martin, whose team has scored lopsided victories over Anne Arundel each of the past four years. "But he had to make this decision to protect his players. It is hard to tell a coach you will take it easy on him, but I was going to pull my starters after the first quarter. I didn't tell Alan that, but I think he knew that our second- and third-team guys were that much better than the guys he had left. He just couldn't take a chance that his kids would get hurt."

Martin's concern for the Knights was that the forfeit may hurt his team slightly in the JUCO poll. He was worried from the beginning of the season that Montgomery-Rockville's nine-game schedule would be perceived as a problem by the committees that do the weekly polls and organize postseason bowl games; playing just eight games could further hinder his team's bowl opportunities. Invitations to JUCO bowls will be made following games played on Nov. 8.