The high school football regular season hasn’t started yet, but COVID-19 is already altering the schedule.
Friday night’s Class C season opener between Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and Leavitt Area High School of Turner Center will not be played due to COVID-19 cases and close contacts within the MCI football team.
MCI athletic administrator Jim Leonard declined to disclose the exact number of players on the Huskies’ 28-person roster who tested positive or became subject to a 10-day quarantine period that began last week due to close contact.
“We had more than one test positive and there were a bunch of close contacts once the dust settled,” he said. “Out of an abundance of caution and following the CDC guidelines, we did not have enough [people] to play the game safely.”
The MCI-Leavitt game was to have been a rematch of the 2019 Class C state championship contest between the schools, which Leavitt won 30-24.
That was the most recent state final played in that class, as the 2020 tackle football season was canceled due to COVID-19.
The canceled game will be considered a no contest instead of a forfeit, said Maine Principals’ Association interscholastic executive director Mike Burnham.
“This way we’re not penalizing somebody for having COVID,” he said.
Burnham added that chairpersons of all of the MPA’s fall sports committees have been invited to meet with the association’s sports medicine committee on Wednesday to discuss possible recommendations regarding student-athletes and their return to their sports teams after serving a quarantine period.
“There have been a number of situations where there have been close contacts on athletic teams across the state with questions around conditioning upon their return from quarantine,” he said.
The Class C North and Class C South regular-season schedules both have each team playing eight games in eight consecutive weeks leading up to the playoffs, so the MCI-Leavitt contest won’t be rescheduled.
“There’s no real place to put the games in. You can’t play more than one a week in football,” MCI football head coach Tom Bertrand said. “We wanted to make sure that Leavitt might have an opportunity to pick up a game with somebody else so we called that game earlier rather than later.”
MCI previously had canceled its preseason game scheduled for last Friday in Pittsfield against Winthrop-Monmouth-Hall-Dale due to the COVID-19 issues that arose earlier in the week.
“We had a confirmed case and there were some close contacts and the close contacts had to be quarantined for 10 days like the cases, so we definitely had to cancel the Winthrop game because with the contacts we didn’t have enough people,” Leonard said. “We probably had just enough to play but it would have been dangerous for some of those [younger] kids because they’re not ready for varsity competition.”
Both teams are scheduled to return to action on Sept. 10, with MCI at home against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Leavitt at Hermon.