La Vergne holds off Rockvale 49-35 in season opener

Rockvale and La Vergne kick off the 2020 high school football season amid the sunset. A year later, teams are still dealing with COVID-19. Across the state, 12 games total were canceled Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, during Week 2 of the season. 

UPDATED (2:09 PM, FRIDAY) —  11 more Week 2 games have been cancelled across Tennessee high school football due to COVID-19, bringing the total to 30 contests. 

The latest Middle Tennessee game to be cancelled on Friday was Summertown-Wayne County

The following games won't be played: 

Upperman-Trousdale County

Stewarts Creek-East Nashville

Middleton-Thrasher (MS)

South Gibson-Westwood

South Pittsburg-Chattanooga Christian

Bledsoe County-Moore County

Ooltewah-Red Bank

Hixson-Notre Dame

Chattanooga Central-Franklin County

Meigs County-Kings Academy 

Whitwell-Huntland

Gallatin-Blackman

Smyrna-Rockvale

Hampton-Johnson County

Red Boiling Springs-Tennessee Heat

East-Hickman-Camden

Jackson County-York Institute

Daniel Boone-West Ridge

Rhea County-Elizabethton

Lake County-Obion County

Warren County-White County

Spring Hill-Summit 

Wartburg-Harriman 

Southwind-Kirby 

Midway-Lakeway Christian 

Stewart County-Gibson County

Copper Basin-Fannin County (GA)

Freedom Prep-MLK Prep

Northview Academy-West Greene

ORIGINAL — What started with a few games Tuesday turned into a snowball of COVID-related football cancelations, less than two weeks into the 2021 season.

By early Wednesday evening, 17 games had been impacted including the cancelation of Nashville-area matchups between Gallatin-Blackman and Smyrna-Rockvale.

Gallatin and Smyrna were both forced to pull out due to issues with COVID-19 within their teams. Gallatin will attempt a replacement game Oct. 8, according to the team’s Twitter account.

Seven of other canceled games are from the Chattanooga area: South Pittsburg-Chattanooga Christian, Bledsoe County-Moore County, Ooltewah-Red Bank, Hixson-Notre Dame, Chattanooga Central-Franklin County, Meigs County-Kings Academy and Whitwell-Huntland.

Others are: Hampton-Johnson County, Red Boiling Springs-Tennessee Heat, East-Hickman-Camden, Jackson County-York Institute, Daniel Boone-West Ridge, Rhea County-Elizabethton, Lake County-Obion County and Warren County-White County.

The disruptions occurred the same day Tennessee surpassed 1 million COVID cases since its first counted case in March 2020. The virus’ rapidly moving delta variant has spurred a recent increase, pushing the state’s hospitalization numbers toward highs unseen since January.

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association anticipated there would be changes to sports schedules, going as far to update its COVID forfeiture policy before the season to reflect things learned last year.

Schools must first try to make up the game. If they can’t, the opposing team will receive a win for seeding purposes. The forfeiting team will not receive a loss.

In football, if the visiting team this year forfeits due to COVID it will serve as the visiting team again with the opposing school next year.

The cancelations have left teams looking for games at the last minute.

When COVID cases decreased early this summer, many people were confident the 2021 season would bring more normalcy — at least compared to last year when Metro Nashville Public Schools began the season weeks late and other schools started slow due to postponements and cancelations.

In June, the TSSAA said it would shape its virus-related guidance for schools based on a conversation with members of Gov. Bill Lee’s staff. The two sides ultimately never met, TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said last week.

The TSSAA sent a memo to schools in July encouraging schools to create their own policies regarding COVID, and in the absence of a policy, they should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for face coverings, social distancing and quarantine measures.

Tyler Palmateer covers high school sports for Main Street Nashville. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Palmateer has covered high school and college sports for nearly a decade. Find him on Twitter @tpalmateer83.

Donovan Stewart is entering his 26th season covering high school football and his 10th year of covering the entire state of Tennessee. He is also the Media Director for the Tennessee Football Coaches Association (TnFCA).

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