Regular seasons for local high school football teams were originally slated to start on Friday, Aug. 21, with opening matchups featuring the Huntingdon Mustangs hosting the McKenzie Rebels and the West Carroll War Eagles hosting the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central Tigers.
But, as of press time Monday, only one of those contests was still set to go forward as originally planned.
If something doesn’t change between now and then, the Mustangs and Rebels will still be squaring off at Paul Ward Stadium on Friday, starting at 7 p.m.
The Tigers-War Eagles matchup, however, has been cancelled after the decision was made to shut down Central schools for the next two weeks due to a rising number of students and staff members having to be quarantined in relation to COVID-19.
But the War Eagles will (or should) be playing Friday night as they have substituted Fayette Academy for Central in the opening game, according to West Carroll head football coach Josh Wolfe. That game is set to start at 7 p.m. in Atwood.
Wolfe said it is unlikely (but possible) that they they will be able to reschedule a game against the Tigers later in the season since both teams are now in different regions.
Huntingdon head football coach Eric Swenson said he is hopeful that Friday night’s game against McKenzie will happen, though things are far from certain at this point.
“As of right now, it’s still on, but there are a lot of teams cancelling,” said Swenson. “I think the situation is kind of fluid right now.”
Swenson and Wolfe said they have tried to prepare their teams as much as possible for Friday’s contests, but the cancellation of all preseason scrimmages and jamborees, as well as a serious lack of full-contact practice time, will likely have an adverse effect on their teams’ performances starting out.
“We’ve only had one week of practice,” said Swenson. “This is the shortest time I’ve ever had to get ready for a football game. It’s definitely going to be a work in progress going forward.”
“I imagine it’s going to be sloppy all over the state Friday night,” said Wolfe. “I anticipate lots of penalties and lots of turnovers, but we’re just going to get out there and do the best we can.”
Swenson pointed out that they have been fortunate in having only a few players in quarantine, and, as far as he knows, there haven’t been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the team.
According to Wolfe, none of his players are currently being quarantined, though with West Carroll schools starting in-person classes on Monday, that situation might change over the next couple of weeks.
See separate story for McKenzie head football coach Wade Comer’s comments about Friday’s season opener against the Mustangs.