JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The coronavirus continues to scramble up the sports schedule.
Nease and Oakleaf were all set to open the football playoffs on Friday night.
But Thursday morning, the Panthers had to forfeit their Region 1-8A postseason opener due to COVID-19 concerns within the program, a disappointing finish in what has been an unprecedented year in sports.
Nease coach Collin Drafts was disappointed for his players with the news of the cancellation. It was the Panthers' second game this season that they had lost due to COVID-19. A game against Mandarin was scratched two hours before kickoff due to contract tracing within the Mustangs program.
A very tough way to end our season with the news today, but the future is bright for @NeaseFTBL. We have no doubt!— Collin Drafts (@CoachDrafts) November 12, 2020
According to Josh Wilson with FloridaHSFootball.com, a total of 17 playoff games this week had been canceled this week. Not all were COVID-19 related, but two in the area were.
Baker County’s first-round playoff opponent, Panama City Beach Arnold, was forced to forfeit due to COVID-19 issues. The Wildcats, like Nease’s opponent, Oakleaf, will both have first-round byes. Earlier this year, the Fletcher swim team also missed out on a chance to compete in the postseason because of COVID-19.
Because of this season’s expanded playoff format, the FHSAA has more teams competing in the playoffs than ever before.
Instead of opening the postseason up this week, both Oakleaf and Baker County will have the week off.
Baker County will travel to face the winner of the Raines-Westside game next Friday in the Region 1-5A quarterfinals. Oakleaf will travel to face Bartram Trail on Nov. 20 in the Region 1-8A quarterfinals.