Bayfield High School has canceled its scheduled football game Friday against Alamosa because of COVID-19.
Bayfield School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. K. Kevin Aten announced the high school would close early Friday with students released at 10 a.m.
Aten indicated there was one staff member on the high school campus with a confirmed positive case. BHS head football coach Gary Heide said the staff member had no affiliation with the BHS football team.
“We have canceled all activities, including tonight’s football game,” Aten said. “It’s just out of an abundance of caution that if we’re not in school and we’ve sent kids off, then we’re not gonna play football, either.”
Because the confirmed case is not within the football team, BHS still has a chance to play the regular-season finale next week at La Junta, though Aten indicated the football team’s participation in any games is likely dependent on whether or not BHS is able to reopen next week. Aten said he hopes to provide more information regarding that timeline on Monday.
“We just don’t know at this point how long this isolation will go on,” Aten said. “If we are back in, Friday would be a school day hypothetically next week that we had a football game, then we would probably play. But if we’re out some more extended period of time then, yeah, then no we would not.
“We send our coaches and staff home today saying until we have a more definite date, they’re not to have contact, which is what the CHSAA guidelines say, as well.”
When news of the school closure hit Friday morning, Heide had a handful of football players in his class. While there was some initial disappointment not to play the home finale Friday night, Heide said the team remains hopeful of another opportunity in the next two weeks.
“Our main concern is that the person on staff who has COVID is safe and healthy,” Heide said. “Our football team supports the decision made by the administration 100% to cancel the game for the safety of everybody. We are still hopeful to get something in here before it all ends. We may or may not, but certainly we feel as though we’ve come this far and that we’d like to get in a game or two yet if the person at the school gets healthy and nobody else gets it.”
Within an hour of the announcement, Alamosa already had a new opponent for Week 5. The Mean Moose will now play Alameda in Denver.
Double-digit games have been canceled across the state this week. More than 25% of originally scheduled games have been impacted.
“Our CHSAA member schools have not been immune to the rise in cases across Colorado,” said CHSAA assistant commissioner Adam Bright, who oversees football. “Our schools have been proactive in communicating potential quarantines, and our office staff has stepped in to assist in finding replacement opponents. In the end, our goal this year was to allow our student-athletes an opportunity to compete, and we have been diligent in providing aid to accomplish that goal.”
This is the second game on the BHS schedule to have been changed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last week’s matchup against Manitou Springs was canceled after the Mustangs opted to cancel their entire fall season after a positive test ahead of Week 1. BHS was able to schedule Florence as a replacement opponent for that game.
“It’s incredibly challenging,” Aten said of trying to juggle athletic activities along with in-person learning priorities during the pandemic. “We’re trying to thread this needle between in-person learning, keeping them on the field, keep them doing things we know are really important to their childhood but also keep our staff and keep them safe, and that is incredibly challenging.”
Durango High School has had two opponents cancel games because of COVID-19 this season, including a Week 1 home game with Pueblo South. DHS was unable to find a new opponent for that week. Last week, DHS hosted Evergreen in a non-league game after Pueblo Centennial canceled its trip to Durango and Evergreen also was left without a Week 4 opponent because of COVID-19.
Durango is scheduled to play at Pueblo East at noon Saturday. Ignacio played its game at Monte Vista on Friday night, though with even fewer fans in attendance than previous weeks.
“As we enter into the final weeks of the season, we are excited for a postseason for fall football and will remain cognizant of the high school landscape in these turbulent times,” Bright said.
BHS has been eliminated from the Class 2A state playoffs with only eight teams slated to make postseason brackets this season. But CHSAA left open the possibility of teams playing a seventh game the week of Thanksgiving if they do not make the playoffs.
Now at 0-4, Heide said preliminary discussions have begun about the potential of playing an extra game.
“If we do that, it will probably be a really long trip. There’s nobody left around here to play really,” Heide said. “But we are thinking of it. We haven’t ruled it out, but we have no feelers out just yet.”