MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Anticipation for what is expected to be a great season was followed by deflation in a span of about ten hours on Saturday for the Midland Trail High School football team.
The Patriots took the field for a scrimmage game and played well in their final preseason tuneup. At 9pm however, they learned their season opener would be delayed. The color-coded state metrics map placed Fayette County in the orange category, meaning that MTHS could not take part in a game.
“It was disappointing because we have such high hopes of having a really good season,” Midland Trail head coach Frank Isaacs said. “It is not over. We scrimmaged Gilmer County Saturday morning and had a really good taste of solid and competitive football and we were ready to go. Spirits were high and the energy was high.
“Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to play this week. I try to tell these kids we just have to deal with it. There’s no sense in crying about it. We just have to move on and use this week to get better. Hopefully, it is in the cards to play the following week.”
The Patriots were originally scheduled to visit Tolsia on September 4 to open up the season. Tolsia is ranked seventh in the MetroNews Preseason Poll, while Trail is ninth. Tolsia will now host Richwood instead.
Isaacs says the Patriots will participate in a typical ‘game-week’ practice schedule, even though they will not play on Friday. He prepared the team for potential bad news prior to Saturday’s official posting of the state map.
“Looking at the predictors Friday and Saturday morning, we had a good idea. So I went ahead and prepared the kids Friday that there was a good opportunity we would get bad news Saturday night. They understand the situation and we had no control over it. We just have to deal with what we can control. We’re moving on.
“But if you get two or three weeks of this, you are going to take the air out of a lot of football teams.”
Governor Jim Justice announced on Monday that teams may participate in COVID testing and if all players test negative, they may compete despite being in the orange category. Fayette County schools, along with Logan and Kanawha County, will not participate in the testing. That decision was made after a Zoom conference with county and school officials.
“If you get a positive test, you could be out for two to three weeks, with a 14-day quarantine and things like that. We felt like it was in our best interest just to go ahead and take the hit and not play this week. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity to play next week.
“It was too much of a gamble. You are rolling the dice to play one game when potentially you could have lost three.”
Martinsburg and Mingo Central have stalled practices in preseason camp due to positive COVID tests with individuals around their respective programs. Isaacs is confident his team has and will continue to follow the suggested procedures.
“You have to have a good line of communication with your kids. We are being real with them and telling them they have to be role models by following all the guidelines. Do what is right and hopefully everyone else around will do the same and we can change the color and change the turn of the virus.”
Fayette County briefly dropped into the yellow category on Sunday before returning to orange in Monday’s DHHR map. If Fayette is listed in yellow or green this coming Saturday, Midland Trail will open their season at Meadow Bridge on September 11. Isaacs has high hopes for his team after finishing 6-5 in 2019 and welcoming back a large senior class.
“We may be the best team in Midland Trail that has never been seen if we continue to be in the orange or the red.
“I just kind of go with the flow anymore because if I don’t I am probably going to end up pulling all of my hair out. And I don’t have that much anyway.”
Update — Kanawha, Logan and Fayette County schools announced Monday afternoon that they will not participate in the proposed testing program.
— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) August 31, 2020