COVID concerns cancel local jamboree, idle NCHS and Lakeview football this Friday

The new Louisiana High School Athletic Association rule that issues teams losses for games cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols led to cancellation of Friday night’s high school football jamboree at Turpin Stadium involving all three parish teams – Natchitoches Central, St. Mary’s and Lakeview.

NCHS and Lakeview are taking the weekend off as a precaution since contact tracing from positive tests are sidelining numerous players. St. Mary’s, which has also lost many of its youngest players, has enough competitors clear and plans to travel to the Minden area to compete against first-year LHSAA member Glenbrook Friday night at 7.

Officials at NCHS and Lakeview cited the new LHSAA rule as motivation to stay away from competition Friday, in hopes that quarantines and other protocols will be effective so that they can begin the regular season as slated on Friday, Sept. 3.

“Due to COVID protocols, the health and safety of our players, parents, coaches and staff of Natchitoches Central High School, this week’s football jamboree game vs. Evangel Christian Academy has been cancelled. We look forward to seeing all our Chief fans next Friday night, September 3 at Independence Stadium as the Chiefs will take on the Woodlawn Knights at 7 o’clock,” said a statement issued Tuesday afternoon by NCHS digital media coordinator Matt Danna.

St. Mary’s and Lakeview were slated to meet Friday in the matchup prior to NCHS’s contest with Evangel. The opening jamboree action was a battle between the NCHS junior varsity and Glenbrook, coached by former Chiefs offensive coordinator David Feaster.

After taking stock of virus trends involving their campuses, SMHS and Lakeview chose not to play each other. Lakeview coach Brandon Helms opted to take a break.

“We’re short on numbers anyway, so we’re going to slow down and get ready for week one, hoping everything gets cleaned up by then. I would rather cancel a jamboree than have to forfeit a week one game because of the quarantine situation.

“We want to take a break. It’s not that we need to. We were still planning on playing, but outside situations made this our best choice. We’re following all protocols and doing what we can to keep these young people and everyone else healthy.”

NCHS principal Micah Coleman said reaching the decision to cancel the jamboree was painful, but prudent.

“We were sure looking forward to competing on Friday, and on top of that making a little bit of money for our football program. We knew this weekend would be a pivot point for us as a school. Our numbers have been really, really good up until this week. I was hoping we weren’t lagging behind everybody else, but that seems to be the deal. We’ve not had a good couple of days as far as COVID numbers go.

“We went back and forth. Most of our football guys are not positive tests, but they’ve had close contact with those who did, so therefore they were quarantined.

“Talking with Coach (second-year head coach James) Wilkerson and his staff, we would rather give up the jamboree and give us the best chance to compete week one, with a full squad. We are taking precautions hoping to be good to go next weekend,” said Coleman.

St. Mary’s football coach Aaron York was pleased to set up the 7 p.m. jamboree at Glenbrook.

“We had kids who had to go home today due to contact tracing, so we’re only taking about 18 up to Glenbrook, but they’re mostly my mainstays, my starters,” he said. “We need to see live reps, against another team, and going on the road after being home last week will be good for us. We’ll see good competition.”

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