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East Texas coaches work quickly to find replacement games

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 5:54 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Football season is usually about chaos on the gridiron, not in the scheduling book, but the COVID-19 pandemic won’t take a break just for Friday night lights.

As of Thursday afternoon, 41 of the 530 UIL 11 man games for this week have been canceled. Week one saw almost five percent of the games canceled, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas football.

“I mean I don’t know of really any that’s been canceled just because you had too many kids on the team with COVID,” said Tory Barnes, San Augustine head coach. “So it’s basically just been a total district shut down that has canceled the games and that’s basically coming down from the superintendent.”

As of now, the cancellation rate for week two is about half of what it was last year, back when there was no vaccine. Across the state, six games for week three have already been canceled, three of which include East Texas teams. Part of what might be keeping the rate at its current course is the quick thinking of coaches. Replacement games have been able to come together in a matter of hours thanks to good communication between teams across various school districts.

“The coaches have a pretty good network, and I actually had about two other people call about possibly playing,” said Blake Morrison, Diboll head coach. “It goes quick, it does. And so we turned it around, traded film on Monday night and got ready to play, started getting ready.”

With game officials from the cancelled game already set, approval from principals and transportation are the final details needed to get a replacement game on the schedule. The change in preparation process can be a challenge if games get changed mid week, but coaches know that the most important thing to many student athletes, is to go to whatever lengths they can to let their kids have a season, as safely as possible.

“I mean, you go back to 2020 and some seniors got their baseball season cancelled and didn’t even get to finish,” said Barnes. “Some kids got their track season cancelled. And so if you’re able to play, we just have to be happy with being able to play.”

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