Pandemic kicks football to sidelines

High Prairie Renegade ball carrier Raiden Duchesneau is tackled by a Whitecourt Cat in high school football action Oct. 18, 2019 in High Prairie. The game was the final in the regular season in the Mighty Peace Football League. The league has cancelled the 2020 season.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The high school and minor football seasons have been grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bad news for the high school High Prairie Renegades and the High Prairie Outlaws bantam team was posted on the High Prairie Football Group Facebook page.

“Currently, no games or scrimmages will be allowed at the high school level,” says Tom Duchesneau, head coach of both teams.

He also serves as president of the High Prairie and Area Football Society.

Football Alberta released its return-to-play guidelines while additional guidelines are set by the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association [ASAA].

Teams are allowed to start practices and training Sept. 1, with restrictions but it will not include High Prairie.

“Due to the low commitment by players and volunteers, the High Prairie and Area Football Society has no choice but to suspend football activities for this season,” Duchesneau says.

“We hope that as everything gets back to normal, we will be able to again run our spring program.”

Health restrictions are major factors to sideline the season.

“The extra volunteers required in order to follow health guidelines, along with the restriction of players allowed to participate in only one sport, are the main reasons that we cannot run a program this fall,” Duchesneau says.

Most of the High Prairie players participate in more that one sport.

“We have always supported our players to be multi-sport athletes.”

However, with the recent restrictions, players would be allowed to play only one sport at a time.

Guidelines demand players would have to quarantine for 14 days if they wanted to change sports.

He says it is too early to tell if the high school league will offer a spring season as Football Alberta continues discussions with the ASAA.

“Postponing the season was one of the last things we wanted to do,” Duchesneau says.

“We have several very gifted athletes, and it is very unfortunate that we could not provide them with a place to play this fall.”

The High Prairie Renegades have played five seasons in the Mighty Peace Football League.

The High Prairie Outlaws have played four seasons in the Peace Country Bantam Football League.

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