By Maurice Patton
As it now stands, Columbia Academy’s season-opening football game will be its home opener as well.
Officials from both schools confirmed Saturday the Bulldogs’ scheduled trip Friday to Marshall County has been canceled in the aftermath of an increase in COVID-19 cases, which have forced the Lewisburg school to go to virtual classes for the next two weeks beginning Monday.
CA will now open on Aug. 28 against visiting Shelbyville.
“We feel for Marshall County and Coach (Thomas) Osteen. We wish those players all the luck and good health in the near future,” Bulldogs coach Charlie Lansdell said. “In the meantime, we’re going to do everything we can to keep our kids safe and make that a priority.”
“I definitely think it’s the best decision for both schools,” CA athletics director Pernell Knox added. “We don’t want to put our kids in that situation. They don’t have all their players; you don’t know who has it or who doesn’t.
“Canceling is the best option all around. It’s a non-region game. We both have bigger fish to fry, and we’re hoping it’s going to be a long season for us both.”
Osteen said contact tracing has indicated a possibility of positive cases within the team, but nothing definitive is known at this point.
“We have some cases at school,” he said. “But with the COVID rubric we’re following – not a single bit has happened during football practice. According to the rubric, you’ve got to be within six feet of someone who has it for 10 continuous minutes. That never happens in football.
“They either sat beside someone in homeroom or in class or at lunch. I’m 100 percent against virtual classes, but to play football, that looks like it’s going to be the best option for us to play.”
Osteen said the Tigers had two positive cases over the summer, but declined to comment on the current status of any team member.
Lansdell observed that the schedule could continue to be similarly fluid as the season progresses.
“I think every week could bring about challenges at this point,” he said. “I hope cases go down and we start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I feel we’re very fortunate in where we are, in regards to health. We don’t have any players missing because of the virus.”
Lansdell added that the decision to not play Friday was reached mutually between officials from both schools.
“There are no bad guys when something like this comes about,” he said. “It’s something we as coaches and administrators have to use our best discretion and what we know to make the hard decisions.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.