E.A. Sports Today

Heflin open Week 1 again

Lee County school shutdown forces cancelation of Cleburne County-Beulah game, the second time that week’s Tigers game has been impacted by COVID-19

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

HEFLIN – The COVID carousel of scheduling continued for another local high school football team today as Cleburne County has been forced yet again to find another game for a Week 1 vacancy created by coronavirus concerns.

When 3A Beulah shutdown workouts and canceled its first three games of the year, it left the Tigers to go looking for another game for their Aug. 28 date. The Bobcats have been quarantined after a player tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

It was the second time that game was impacted on Cleburne County’s schedule. The Tigers were scheduled to play Mt. Zion (Ga.) at L.E. Bell Field on Aug. 28 and Beulah was scheduled to play Pacelli (Ga.) that same week. But both games were scuttled by Georgia’s decision to delay play.

The Tigers and Bobcats got together to fill that void – in a game to be played at Beulah – but now that’s off because of the Lee County school’s decision.

“It’s been crazy,” Cleburne County coach Joby Burns said. “I guess it’s just bad luck. We had Mt. Zion, which was pretty close for us and we felt like it’d be a good competitive game and then getting their season pushed back and having to find somebody else. It’s just sort of bad luck that they had to cancel it because they got people sick. It could have just as easily been us having to do that. I think it’s just a little bit of bad luck.”

As far as that goes, Burns said the Tigers have been “pretty fortunate” with regards to the virus. They have had one player quarantined because a parent tested positive, but so far none of the players have tested positive and the Tigers have been conducting practices and business as usual. School starts Thursday.

“We’ve been good, knock on wood,” Burns said.

The Tigers are committed to finding a game to fill the date. Burns said he heard “rumblings” of Beulah’s situation Tuesday night and after Bobcats coach Matt Johnson called him with confirmation Wednesday morning he called two smaller schools to get a game but learned they already found opponents.

“We need to play, our guys, we need to play,” Burns said. “We’re going to try our best to find a game … because we really just need to play. Hopefully we’ll find somebody else. I’m not going to give up.”

The Tigers will open their second season under Burns Aug. 21 at Ohatchee, a game the Indians have designed as their Senior Night just in case there’s a shutdown midseason. Burns hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“We certainly need to respect the disease and try to live by and abide by the things they’re telling us to do,” he said. “I think we need to get back to a sense of normalcy best we can as long as it’s not too dangerous for us. I definitely want to play. I hope we play the whole season and hope everybody stays safe through it.”

If they don’t find a home game to replace Beulah, the Tigers’ home opener will be their region opener Sept. 4 against White Plains.

Burns said there are no plans at present to limit the crowd sizes in their stadium. The Tigers do have a spacious facility to provide their fans ample room for social distancing.

Anyone else experiencing some scheduling shifts due to COVID-19? Drop a line to almusky@aol.com to let us know the changes.

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