A flurry of COVID-related situations disrupted high school football games across the metro area on Friday, with last-minute cancellations leaving some teams sidelined and others thankful to find new opponents.
Lakeville North saw its scheduled opponent cancel for the third consecutive week. St. Michael-Albertville went from not playing at Edina because of a COVID test earlier in the week to hosting Champlin Park after the Rebels lost their scheduled opponent, Anoka, at the last minute.
The schedule upheaval came as Anoka, Champlin Park, Andover, Coon Rapids and Blaine learned that the Anoka-Hennepin School District is moving to distance learning because of a rise in area COVID cases. That means all five schools will shut down their sports programs effective Nov. 2, the district said on its website.
Lakeville North’s tough luck went public shortly before 5 p.m. when its athletic department Twitter account said the 7 p.m. game against Eastview was canceled “due to health concerns.’’ Both the Panthers’ Week 1 opponent, Rosemount, and Week 2 opponent, Burnsville, canceled because of COVID-related issues.
Cretin-Derham Hall’s game against Woodbury was canceled. A tweet from Woodbury’s activities department on Friday afternoon said, in part, “We’re hoping to be able to reschedule. More information will be shared when it’s available.’’
The Raiders found a new opponent in St. Paul Central, which had an opening after its scheduled game Thursday against St. Paul Humboldt was canceled.
White Bear Lake alerted East Ridge that it would not be able to play their scheduled 7 p.m. game, with no immediate word on what triggered the change. East Ridge posted the cancellation on its Twitter page late Friday afternoon.
Then there’s St. Michael-Albertville, which started the week as Edina’s homecoming opponent on Friday. A positive COVID test this week at St. Michael-Albertville led to an initial quarantining of 82 players and sent Edina to Twitter to find a new opponent.
As school officials did due diligence with contact tracing, the number of players needing to quarantine dropped to about 20 by the end of Wednesday, leaving enough for team practice to resume practicing Thursday, Knights athletic director Keith Cornell said.
Edina was no longer a game option, however, having found a new opponent with Bemidji, which had its game against St. Cloud Apollo canceled.
The Knights looked to be out of luck until 9 a.m. Friday, when Champlin Park reached out after its game with Anoka was canceled amid a COVID-19 investigation. After sorting through issues of where and when to play, they settled on 4 p.m. at St. Michael-Albertville, using the same field crew that was to handle the Champlin Park-Anoka game.
The Knights won the game 31-13.
“Every game’s important because it could be the last one these kids get,’’ Cornell said. “Even on short notice, every game’s a gift.’’