E.A. Sports Today

Game on

Cleburne County Tigers continue to battle illness, but “are going to try and play” Friday night’s game with Alexandria (free content)

Friday’s Calhoun County games
Alexandria at Cleburne County
Donoho at Spring Garden
Loachapoka at Jacksonville
Locust Fork at Weaver
Ohatchee at Ashville
Oxford at Benjamin Russell
Pell City at Anniston
Piedmont at Leeds
Saks at St. Clair County
Wellborn at Talladega
Westbrook Christian at White Plains

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN (updated at 3:30 p.m.) – The team area will look a little thinner than usual, but the Cleburne County Tigers “are going to try and play” Friday night’s home game against Alexandria, head coach Michael Shortt said today.

The Tigers have been battling a wave of illness that has affected half their 54-player roster all at once. Shortt based his decision to play on the perspective of the players who will be available. He expects to have a complement of “probably in the mid-30s to 40” players for the game, including their main offensive weapons.

“The boys who are going to be here want to play and the ones who may be back tomorrow will stand there,” Shortt said. “We had 20 out today, but the ones who are here are the ones who are going to give it a shot.”

Shortt informed Alexandria coach Frank Tucker of the decision to play around lunchtime.

More than two dozen Tigers have been sidelined with flu, bronchitis, upper respiratory infection, strep throat or similar maladies this week. Shortt canceled practice Wednesday while his coaching staff worked to sanitize the dressing rooms and equipment and the team went through a “normal Thursday practice” that was basically a light walk-through.

They put in their prep for the eighth-ranked Valley Cubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The Cubs, meanwhile, never deviated from their practice-week routine as they worked to bounce back from last week’s loss at Etowah.

“We never changed anything; in my mind we were going to play the whole time,” Tucker said. “We prepared like we would any week. Our kids didn’t know about it until this morning. There was nothing out of the ordinary for us, just a regular week of practice.”

Tucker sounded confident his players wouldn’t be exposed to any health risks by playing in the game. Shortt said to reduce the risk further the teams would forego the traditional post-game handshake for an understanding wave from across the field.

“The biggest thing for us is to keep from getting dehydrated tomorrow,” Shortt said. “Just beg the officials to give us a heat time out. I think they will help us.”

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