More schedules shift due to COVID

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to create lots of gaps in North Texas football schedules, as big schools begin district play and smaller schools start their stretch runs for the playoffs.

On Monday, Palmer received word that it will gain a District 7-3A (II) forfeit victory because of a virus outbreak in Blooming Grove. Also on Monday, Midlothian Heritage learned that it will play Brownwood after all, negating an ordered pair of forfeits and rearranging the tail end of the District 5-4A (I) schedule to allow Brownwood to make up two games.

And this weekend, Ennis announced that this Friday’s District 8-5A (II) contest at Sulphur Springs was called off. In its place, the Lions will host Mansfield Summit for a non-district game on Thursday.

The forfeit by Blooming Grove clinched a playoff berth for the Bulldogs (8-1, 4-1), but Palmer will still need Rice to beat Blooming Grove in the Nov. 6 finale to grab a share of the 7-3A (II) title. Rice stunned Palmer, 29-28, in overtime on Sept. 25.

“Due to circumstances out of our control the Varsity Football game against Blooming Grove has been canceled,” Palmer High School tweeted Monday. “Per the District Executive Committee guidelines we will get credit for a win.”

PHS added that subvarsity games will be played as scheduled.

The Bulldogs did not indicate whether they would try to fill the opening in their schedule with a replacement. If they don’t, that would leave Waxahachie and Maypearl as the only two 11-man football teams remaining in Ellis County whose schedules have been unaffected directly by the virus since the season kicked off.

Over at Ennis, the Class 5A Division II No. 1-ranked Lions (2-0) will finally get back on the field on Thursday night for the first time since the Battle of 287 on Oct. 9. Their game against Greenville last Friday has been postponed to Thanksgiving weekend. A final decision on what to do with the Sulphur Springs meeting was still to be determined as of midday Tuesday.

Elsewhere in 8-5A (II), things have gotten worse on the COVID front. Crandall announced Monday night that its game with North Forney this Friday has been called off, throwing the district schedule into chaos. Ennis, Crandall and Sulphur Springs all have two district games to make up with only one built-in make-up date, and Greenville and North Forney each has one.

The 8-5A (II) district executive committee scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to determine how to move forward. One option would be to adjust the tail end of the schedule to where games are five days apart in order to squeeze in one more playing date — which is what Heritage’s district is doing.

Both Heritage and Class 4A Division I No. 3-ranked Waco La Vega would have clinched playoff berths with Brownwood’s forfeits in place. But Brownwood head coach Sammy Burnett received a second hearing with the 5-4A (I) district executive committee on Friday and won approval to reschedule the two games. So instead, the Jags (6-2, 2-0) will host the Lions on Saturday, Nov. 7 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Lions will now play Life Waxahachie on Wednesday, Oct. 28; La Vega on Monday, Nov. 2; and Heritage on Nov. 7 in order to squeeze in an extra playing date. The La Vega-Alvarado game was also moved to Oct. 28 to accommodate the changes.

The schedule shift means the Jags are potentially slated to play 11 games, one over the regular-season limit that the University Interscholastic League has maintained for about a century. Heritage scheduled a replacement game against Mesquite Poteet two weeks ago under the understanding that Brownwood forfeited.

Heritage and Brownwood have the option not to play on Nov. 7 if their game has no bearing on postseason berths or seedings.