Preseason chaos: Local teams scramble after opponents cancel

ENID, Okla. — It's a safe bet the Enid Plainsmen football team never imagined having its season-opener on the road against a Class 3A school. But then, this has already not been your typical prep football season.

Without so much as a coin yet being tossed before a season-opener, the 2020 prep football season has already seen more than its share of drama and anxiety. And it's likely to continue as long as schools battle coronavirus concerns.

On Tuesday, Enid went from preparing for its Friday night home-opener against Putnam City to having no game on Friday night to making plans to travel over 200 miles for a road season-opener at Madill.

COVID concerns also shuffled Chisholm's planned home-opener against Perkins-Tryon and impacted Oklahoma Bible Academy's planned opener against Guymon JV.

It was quite a roller coaster ride for Enid football throughout the day on Tuesday.

Shortly after word started to get around that Putnam City had canceled its trip to Enid to open the prep football season, Enid Public Schools sent an email confirming it.

According to the email, Putnam City's superintendent indicated that it cannot attend activities, home or away, when the county they are playing in is in orange level 2 or higher, which is a measure of COVID-19 activity released every Friday by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

As of Monday, 453 EPS students were quarantining for close-contact; 31 students have tested positive and are in isolation.

"We were prepared to play," said Enid Athletic Director Billy Tipps regarding Putnam's cancelation, which followed one week after Enid canceled out of a planned four-team scrimmage at Bixby out of potential COVID exposure concerns.

Tipps said Enid has been taking all necessary precautions regarding social distancing, wearing masks and cleaning. "We wanted to play," he said.

But rather than settle for an open date, Enid head coach Rashaun Woods started working the phones and was able to nail down a game against the Madill Wildcats.

Like Enid, Madill had suddenly found itself without an opponent for Friday after Tishomingo canceled due to one of its coaches reportedly having to quarantine.

"Our kids have worked hard and have made sacrifices, we are happy that they are going to get to play," Tipps said of the surprise trip to Madill to open the season.

Enid is coming off an 0-10 season. Madill went 3-7 in 2019.

• Meanwhile, Chisholm's home-opener Friday against Perkins-Tryon was canceled with game being moved to Sept. 18. Chisholm will now open the season Sept. 4 at home against Fairview.

Both Chisholm superintendent Chad Broughton and head football coach Joey Reinart confirmed that Perkins-Tryon, like Putnam City, stated it had a policy of not traveling to areas in orange level 2.

After initially making plans to make it a road game Friday night at Perkins, the decision was made instead to move the game to Sept. 18 at Chisholm, which was an open date. The Longhorns will now have an open date on Friday.

Chisholm principal Shane Dent said Chisholm was closed beginning Tuesday for a three-day period after a "couple of positive cases" in the student body. There were no practices being held for its sports teams during this period. Like Enid, Dent said the school was taking proper measures and following necessary protocols for safety.

• Oklahoma Bible Academy head coach Chris Cayot said Guymon High School JV canceled its game Friday at OBA because it had a few positive cases among its players.

The Trojans will now open the season Sept. 4 by hosting Casady, a private school that plays in the Southwest Preparatory Conference, which had decided earlier this year not to play conference games. In addition to Oklahoma teams, the SPC includes teams from Dallas and Houston.

"We're just playing it day by day," Cayot said on Tuesday. He said he just hopes OBA gets to play and that Casady "was a comparable matchup" for OBA.

• Both Waukomis and Pioneer said that its Friday season-openers remain unchanged.

However, Pioneer head coach Gus Overstreet said one staff member tested positive which caused Pioneer to go to virtual classroom learning this week. He said Pioneer offered to travel to Seiling, but the Wildcats indicated they would still travel to Pioneer for the 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday.

Waukomis head coach Mark Timberlake said the Chiefs' home opener Friday night against Waynoka is still on. He said there have been no positive tests at Waukomis so far.

• On Monday, Deer Creek-Lamont announced it was canceling its first two games after a faculty member there tested positive.

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Ruthenberg is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle. Enid News & Eagle freelance writer Bruce Campbell contributed to this story.

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