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How high school football teams dealt with game cancellations and inclement weather

Posted at 11:59 AM, Aug 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-28 12:12:05-04

CINCINNATI — Between the heat concerns, game cancellations due to COVID-19 and Friday's inclement weather, it was quite a week for Greater Cincinnati high school football.

Six games were canceled due to COVID-19, multiple schools pushed back kickoff times in advance of heat concerns and then several games had to delay Friday night or postpone until Saturday morning due to inclement weather.

"We fought through more adversity last year than ever before and we've been trained to be prepared for any opportunity at any moment," said Anderson coach Evan Dreyer, whose Raptors played Clinton-Massie Saturday morning after being postponed Friday.

Adversity came in the form earlier this week of unexpected scheduling issues for multiple Greater Cincinnati teams that were impacted by their opponent's COVID-19 quarantines.

McNicholas found out its game with Batavia was canceled Thursday but was eventually able to connect with New Richmond whose game with Bethel-Tate was canceled.

McNicholas had some familiarity since its first scrimmage was against New Richmond. Still, the uncertainty didn't make it any easier with about 24 hours to prepare a game plan.

"I mean it was a whirlwind," McNicholas coach Mike Orlando said. "We found out (Thursday) afternoon and it was probably a two-hour window there where it was like kind of scrambling - what do you want to do, what can we do with our options that type of thing."

McNicholas defeated host New Richmond 34-14 Friday night but those two teams weren't the only schools looking for opponents the day before the game.

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McNicholas football coach Mike Orlando said he was grateful to be able to play at New Richmond Friday night after the Rockets' game against Batavia was canceled Thursday.

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Moeller football coach Mark Elder sent calls and text messages from his iPhone starting Thursday morning in order to find an opponent after Louisville Trinity had to cancel its trip to Cincinnati for a Saturday night game at Shea Stadium in Norwood.

Initially, he wasn't receiving much success.

"I kept getting no, no, no," Elder said. "It reminded me of my dating life in high school. Rejection after rejection."

At one point, Elder reached out to contacts in five states from Tennessee to Michigan for hours on Thursday in order to try to schedule a game.

"I was literally all over the place," Elder said. "I was on Google maps going, 'What else is there? Are there any other areas I need to look up?'"

Elder told the team around 2:45 p.m. Thursday about the cancellation and instructed the players to bring home and road uniforms Friday to prepare for any game location and most importantly a mindset to be ready to compete.

"'If we get a game at noon (Friday), we're playing," Elder told the team. "'That's what we're doing. I don't know if it will be at home. I don't know if it will be away. I have no idea. Nor do I care nor should you.'"

Two hours later, Elder sent a text message to the team saying an agreement to play at Chaminade Julienne at 7 p.m. Friday had been reached.

Moeller had considered a Northeast Indiana opponent that would've been a four-hour and 30 minute bus ride. But, Moeller athletic director Justin Bayer wanted more time to find the right fit.

"I was actually more like, 'Justin, I've been doing this for five hours and the game is tomorrow,'" Elder said. "'Like we need to make a call.' And so we started to get in talks with CJ and that other school in Indiana called back and said, 'We're out, we found somebody else.' My heart sunk because CJ hadn't made the call yet."

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Moeller football coach Mark Elder sent several text messages and made phone calls to high schools from Detroit to Nashville and from Louisville to Indianapolis on Thursday in order to try to schedule a game after Louisville Trinity canceled its trip to Cincinnati this weekend.

Eventually Moeller and Chaminade Julienne agreed on Friday night. Chaminade Julienne's game with Dayton Belmont was canceled so it created an opening for the Eagles, who hadn't played Moeller since 1977.

On Thursday night, Elder sent over Hudl film of Moeller's two scrimmage and last week's win over Lakota East and organized a quick game plan after breaking down CJ's film.

"We had a team meeting at 6:30 a.m. (Friday)," Elder said. "We met for an hour to cover special teams, the day and then side of the ball stuff and that was it. Offense did a walk through. No practice, no nothing. We didn't practice (Thursday). We get to roll the ball out and play some football. That's the most important thing to these kids."

Yet, that wasn't the end of the challenging week.

Moeller's game at Chaminade Julienne was delayed nearly two hours due to weather Friday night in yet another twist this week.

The Crusaders eventually won 42-28 to improve to 2-0 this season. Elder was grateful for an opportunity for his team to close out August.

"We couldn't be more appreciative of (Chaminade Julienne) coach (Marcus) Colvin and CJ for giving us this opportunity," Elder said.

"I will be honest. I don't know if we're playing a game if they say no. Very, very appreciative of them playing us. It was huge for us."