For a second straight week, the coronavirus has affected the Howard County varsity football schedule as the 63rd annual Elgard Trophy game scheduled Friday between Howard and Glenelg has been postponed.
Glenelg, which did not play its Week 1 game against Long Reach due to the Lightning program being shut down, is now dealing with a COVID-19 situation of its own. The Gladiators have halted activities and will not play the Lions or the following Friday against Reservoir.
“It’s not really frustration, because it’s out of our control,” Glenelg coach Tim Cullen said. “ ... When we have practiced, our guys have been really spirited. No matter what, we get a chance to come out and practice, and that’s more than the spring sports kids had last year after a couple weeks. No matter what, we’re still grateful we’re out there.”
Glenelg’s first official game is now scheduled for April 1 against Long Reach, which is a makeup of last week’s contest. The most games the Gladiators can possibly play now moving forward is three.
“Adjustments to the athletics schedule will continue to occur as we navigate instances where suspected and confirmed positive cases and/or close contacts impact a team’s ability to play in an upcoming contest,” Howard County Public School System spokesperson Brian Bassett said in a statement Tuesday.
Big picture, the number of postponements through the first two weeks have made the viability of crowning a county champion at season’s end unlikely, according to Howard County Coordinator of Athletics John Davis.
“We knew coming into the season that since we were playing less games and with the rules allowing for only one [football] game per week, there was going to be much less wiggle room for football,” Davis said. “So, at this point, we have shifted our focus to getting in as many games as possible for our football teams instead of trying to dangle that carrot of a county championship. It’s not dead, but it’s on life support.”
For Marriotts Ridge coach Marcus Lewis, who saw his team’s opening-week game against Oakland Mills postponed, trying to determine a county champion this season — in which teams will play a disparate number of games — is something he “can’t really imagine.”
Instead, he’s focusing on what’s right in front of him, and that’s the opener later this week against Centennial.
“This Friday is going to be our first home game, and we made it Senior Night,” Lewis said. “Hopefully we can get to this Friday and honor our seniors. And, to be truthfully honest, after that, I’m good. If we only play that one game in order to honor them going out the door, I’ll be fine with that. Anything after that, for me, is a bonus.”
Davis said the postponed games from Week 1 will be moved to Week 4, which has a scheduled play date of April 1. As of now, the six games for that day are Long Reach at Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge at Oakland Mills, River Hill at Atholton, Hammond at Howard, Wilde Lake at Mt. Hebron and Centennial at Reservoir.
Any cancellations for Week 2 will be moved to Week 5 on April 9, and cancellations for Week 3 will move to Week 6 on April 16. An exact schedule for those final two weeks will be determined closer to the respective dates.
“We are not going through anything that other counties aren’t going through, and we are navigating as best we can with the safety of our student athletes and coaches as our top priority,” Davis said. “We are still committed to playing games moving forward, and this week we have five out of six varsity games being played, which is great.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the five scheduled varsity football games Friday are Atholton at Hammond, River Hill at Wilde Lake, Long Reach at Reservoir, Centennial at Marriotts Ridge and Mt. Hebron at Oakland Mills.
In addition to the postponed varsity game this week, there are also three postponed JV contests. The current JV schedule for Friday is River Hill at Wilde Lake, Long Reach at Reservoir and Centennial at Oakland Mills. Two JV contests were postponed last week after three teams were shut down due to the virus.