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COVID Issues Force Changes to Football Slate

Thursday was certainly a hectic day for football coaches and athletic directors.

With COVID-19 cases climbing all over the Ohio Valley, more and more football games are being affected.

No fewer than five games across the Ohio Valley were either called off or altered due to COVID-19 issues that have continued to rear their ugly head.

There has been at least one game on the OVAC slated called off each week.

However, similar to the COVID cases, that number has grown weekly. In total, 21 games involving at least one OVAC member have canceled.

For instance, this week, alone, there have been seven originally scheduled games called off. Of those, 14 schools involved, four have been able to find a replacement game.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE was informed by Indian Creek that the Redskins didn’t have enough available players to be able to play this evening.

“Getting that call is definitely not the way you want to start your day, but it’s kind of the life all head coaches are living,” St. C. head coach Brett McLean said. “We found out we needed an opponent and we were fortunate to find a local team that happens to be a pretty darn good team, too.”

The Red Devils were able to ink an agreement with Linsly, which found out last Sunday that its scheduled trip to Princeton, W.Va., was off. All told, the trip to the Belmont County Seat saves the Cadets and their fans upwards of 260 miles.

“Coach McLean and I spoke before 9 a.m. and within the hour we were trading films,” Linsly head coach B.J. Depew said. “It’s been a crazy week of phone calls, emails and messages, but it definitely worked out in our favor (in terms of finding a game and a much closer one).”

The Red Devils and Cadets have not played since 1982 when they clashed in a Belmont County Fair Game at Red Devil Stadium. All told, the two schools have played 24 times with each team winning 11 and two ties.

“We’re thrilled to be playing a local team,” Depew said. “Especially a local team that’s such a good, respected program in a beautiful facility. Having said that, (St. Clairsville) would be tough to prepare for if we had a full week because they do so many things well.”

The addition of Linsly completes the Ohio County swing on the schedule for the Red Devils. St. C. lost to Wheeling Park in Week 2 and will take on Wheeling Central next month.

“We’ve been watching as much film as we can, but it’s definitely not normal,” McLean said. “I see a lot of speed and size up front on both sides of the ball.”

HARRISON CENTRAL, which found out on Wednesday that East Liverpool would not be able to play its scheduled game at Wagner Field, officially picked up Gates Mills Hawken Thursday morning.

The Division IV school from suburban Cleveland will make the trip to Cadiz for a 7 o’clock kick this evening.

“We actually traded film at 7:30 a.m. (on Thursday), but it’s more or less just getting back to basic things like we were doing in the summer,” Harrison Central head coach Anthony Hayes said. “Hawken didn’t hesitate to be willing to make the trip.”

Before officially agreeing to the game — or any replacement game for that matter — Hayes and his staff discussed and they also gauged their players.

“We are down some guys too, so we wanted to see where the kids stood and they all wanted to play,” Hayes noted.

In other scheduling changes, Conotton Valley, which was originally set to visit Bridgeport, will trek to Howard to take on East Knox.

BUCKEYE LOCAL was supposed to visit Monroe Central Thursday evening and the Panthers received a call from the Seminoles that the game would have to be canceled due to a COVID-19 case in the program.

The Panthers spent much of the day on Thursday seeking another opponent, but continued to come up empty. They’re still hopeful of finding an opponent.

Monroe Central hopes to return to action next week when it is scheduled to visit Magnolia, which has been off since Sept. 3 due to its school being closed because of surging COVID numbers.

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