The annual Cedar Shoals vs. Clarke Central football game has been postponed as a result of COVID-19 contact tracing conducted at both schools. The delay comes after the game was pushed back one day from its original date of Aug. 20 last week followed by an indefinite postponement announced late Sunday. Kickoff is now set for 7:30 pm on Oct. 28 at Billy Henderson Stadium at Central.
The move will fill the Jaguars’ bye week while the Gladiators moved their matchup against Johnson (Gainesville) back a week. Johnson was also looking for a weekend to reschedule its matchup with West Hall which was also postponed, Ryne Dennis of the Athens Banner-Herald reported.
Clarke County School District announced that the game would be delayed by one day last week to accommodate the required five day acclimation period of several quarantined Clarke Central players. This weekend, Ryne Dennis from the Athens Banner-Herald reported that several Cedar Shoals players went into quarantine as a result of a positive test within the program. The Jaguar program did not believe it would have enough healthy players to safely play the game this week, leading to the mutual decision to postpone the game.
The Clarke Central football team just returned to practicing at full strength this week after two positive tests within the program forced 40 players into quarantine.
“We had a couple players test positive and after contact tracing, we found the vast majority of our players were not vaccinated and therefore had to quarantine,” Clarke Central Athletic Director Jon Ward said. All of those in quarantine were unvaccinated, approximately 75% of the team.
“COVID is here and it’s not going anywhere,” Ward said. “People are going to be infected with it, hopefully the amount will decrease but it’s not going away.”
A COVID-19 report released by CCSD last week stated that 98 students and staff tested positive and 417 individuals were in precautionary quarantine.
Currently, unvaccinated players exposed to COVID-19 must follow the Georgia Department of Public Health’s guidance, which include quarantining for a minimum of 10 days before reacclimating to game pace. Fully vaccinated players face no such guidelines. Ward is hopeful that more players will get vaccinated as the year rolls along.
“Hopefully we’ll have a higher number of players throughout the district get vaccinated,” Ward said. “Not just for football but all sports, which will help cut down on the number of players that will have to quarantine which would subsequently cut down on postponements.”
This development is not the first time COVID-19 has disrupted a Jaguar game. Cedar Shoals was set to play the East Hall Vikings during week four of the 2020 season before there was an outbreak at East Hall, forcing the team to cancel two games, including the matchup against the Jaguars.
“This is such an important game for both the community and the kids,” Cedar Shoals Athletic Director L’Dreco Thomas said. “Since the rivalry started back in 1972, we have never had to skip a year. For the seniors this year, it is their last opportunity to play against their crosstown rival. If I was a senior, not being able to play in this game would weigh heavy on me, so we know the importance of this matchup.”
Both teams will continue to prepare for their new regular season start date on Aug. 27. The Gladiators are poised to face former region foe Buford at Billy Henderson Stadium. The Jaguars are scheduled to face off against Oconee County at Warrior Stadium.