By Mike Deak
KENDALLVILLE – In an eerie pullback to last August, NorthWood football is once again dealing with scrambling to find games.
The 2021 version had East Noble halt its athletic calendar for its fall sports through Aug. 31 because of a COVID breakout at the school. The marquee drop from the calendar is the NorthWood at East Noble football game, to which the Panthers are ‘scrambling’ to find a replacement game for this Friday, Aug. 27.
UPDATED AT 10:05 P.M. WEDNESDAY
Per the NorthWood athletic department in a release late Wednesday evening:
“Wednesday evening, East Noble School Corporation had to make the difficult decision move to a virtual setting for the safety of their students and staff due to COVID-19. This decision will postpone all athletic activity for their student athletes until they can safely return to in-person learning, hopefully next week.
“From Director of Athletics, Roman Smith, on the cancellation, “NorthWood High School and WaNee Community Schools completely understands East Noble’s decision, as it is what is best for their school and community at this time. We hope that they are able to implement their plan and be intentional with reopening soon! In regards to the football game this Friday, discussions are being had and alternative opponents across the state of Indiana are being looked at.”
“NorthWood Athletics has become familiar with rescheduling and finding new opponents this week. Tomorrow (Thursday), the NorthWood Freshman Football will host Fairfield (originally Jimtown), and on Saturday, NorthWood JV Football will host Lakeland (originally East Noble).
“As openings occur this fall, we will work hard to find alternatives that make sense for our programs and community. We want to give our student athletes every opportunity to showcase their talents, work ethic, and passion for one another in their respected sport.”
The shutdown of East Noble athletics did not immediately affect any other of the InkFreeNews contests through Aug. 31.
In a letter from the East Noble School Corporation, East Noble High School is the only school affected in the shutdown, and the corporation is confident the time off will help resolve the issues.
In a portion of its statement, the corporation noted, “All extra-curricular activities will also be shutdown from August 26-31st. During the shutdown, all high school students should refrain from being on campus. The High School will resume in-person instruction and extracurricular activities on Wednesday, September 1st.”
It continued, “All other East Noble Schools will conduct in-person instruction, as usual, during the High School eLearning days. We realize this may inconvenience some of our families. Please know this was a difficult decision that involved numerous factors. We feel the five days will allow the staff to regroup, implement additional cleaning protocols and distance the staff and students for the time necessary to slow the spread of the virus.”