The Chisholm Longhorns (2-6, 1-4) broke a six-game losing streak with last week's 43-6 rout of Blackwell and were looking forward to a chance to make it two straight wins at Newkirk Friday night.
But COVID-19 had other ideas.
At around 3 p.m. Thursday, Longhorns head coach Joey Reinart said he received a telephone call from the principal at Newkirk advising the Tigers would not be able to host the Longhorns as several Newkirk players were going to have be put in quarantine.
"It's kind of a crazy situation," Reinart said late Thursday night. "Last Friday, Newkirk and Luther played and I guess Luther had a player that developed symptoms over the weekend. He tested on Monday and the results came back positive. That started the process of contact tracing, so Newkirk had to go through that process and go back and check game film and see who was going to be in and who was going to be out and they had a big chunk of their team that was going to be out."
However, Reinart was still hoping throughout Thursday afternoon and into the evening to salvage a game against anybody. He said he let the assistant coaches run practice Thursday so he can try to find a replacement. But it turned out to be to no avail.
"I was hoping somebody was out there needing a game also," he said. However, he found that teams that had games canceled earlier in the week had already committed to another game or, at this late stage of the week, had conceded that they wouldn't be playing a game this week.
"They were all no's for us," Reinart said. "We chased from Guymon to Quapaw to Elgin. We checked everybody that's not playing this week.
The cancellation leaves Chisholm with one game left in the regular season schedule next week against Alva.
"We needed this one and the next one to put ourselves in position (for playoff positioning) that we want to be in and the spot we feel like we should be in," Reinart said. "That takes that out of our hands a little bit. It didn't do us any favors."
Coming off their win over Blackwell last week, Reinart and the Longhorns felt confident the team had been making progress.
"I felt like for the last few weeks, even though it's been a loss or kind of ended up not on the right side of some unfortunate things in the Hennessey game (a heartbreaking 15-14 loss), we were getting better, especially defensively. ... I really felt like we were and it kind of came together a bit."
During the rough stretch Reinart said a point of emphasis has been keeping the players' on an even-keel.
"The biggest thing for our guys was just refocusing after big plays, after big scores, big stops on defense," he said. "Because you are dealing with a little bit of excitement. When things are going well you want to make sure you come back down, you refocus. That's kind of been our deal the last couple weeks was just try to keep doing that. Keep improving, keep making sure we're not getting too high or too low."
There were ample opportunities in last week's win to put that into practice, with big time plays being made on both sides of the ball.
The Longhorns rolled up 403 yards in offense and allowed only 123 yards in their most complete game of the year.
The six points allowed were the fewest this season by Chisholm. Reinart said Chisholm schemed to take away Blackwell's top offensive threats.
"We were able to man-up their two best athletes," he said. "Heston Daniels and Nick Deterding both did an exceptional job there. They limited those guys getting the ball, making (Blackwell) find other ways to be able to do that. Then, our inside guys did a great job because we left the box not as full as it needed to be versus their run game. We were able to contain it and keep it inside for the most part and make some tackles."
Daniels also had a big night on offense.
The senior opened Chisholm's scoring by catching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Patton. Daniels' 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was part of a 22-point second quarter that saw Chisholm roll to a 30-0 halftime lead. Fittingly, Daniels capped the scoring with his third touchdown, a fourth quarter 10-yard run.
"He was probably pretty tired after that," Reinart said. "He was definitely running all over the place on defense chasing down people and then offensively he definitely had his best game of the year, not only with the touchdowns, but also made another incredible catch during the game that was a momentum deal for us."
Reinart said the Longhorns were able to "mix it up a little bit" on offense. "We were in a couple outside runs, a couple inside runs and then were able to use some play-action passing and we executed pretty well."
Patton finished with a pair of touchdown passes - including a 40-yard strike to Cody Wichert — and ran for another touchdown. The junior signal-caller has now passed for 841 yards and seven touchdowns this season, while completing 55.6% of his passes.
Friday night's game would have been the 24th meeting between the teams with Chisholm holding a 15-8 lead in the series, including winning the last nine games. Chisholm won last year, 45-0.