BILLINGS — A COVID-19 outbreak at Havre has caused the football team to cancel its regular-season finale against Billings Central.
About 30 Havre football players began quarantining on Sunday because they either tested positive for COVID-19 or are close contacts, Havre activities director Brian Kessler told The Billings Gazette and 406mtsports.com on Monday. That leaves the Blue Ponies (1-5) with 10 eligible players for the home game against Central (5-0) that was scheduled for Friday night.
“You have to take public health into consideration. If you can’t put enough kids out there, you can’t play,” Kessler said. “It’s a tough way to end your season.”
All of Havre’s other activities this week will go on as scheduled, Kessler said.
Last week, Havre tightened its restrictions for spectators at sporting events after Havre Public Schools reported more than 20 cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus since Sept. 20. As of Wednesday, 151 students and 28 staff members were in quarantine, per the Havre Daily News.
This is Central’s second canceled game of the season. The Rams’ home game against Glendive scheduled for Oct. 2 was called off because a Glendive player tested positive for COVID-19. Central proposed to make that game up this Tuesday, but Glendive declined, according to Rams coach Jim Stanton.
“Obviously the kids want to play and are disappointed,” Stanton said Monday. “We never know about the next week or next day. At least we’re in a good situation to move forward and keep everybody safe.”
Stanton joked that Central should take on Huntley Project this week. The Red Devils, who Stanton coached in the 1990s, have not played since Oct. 2 and will not see another opponent until the first round of the Class B playoffs next week. Friday’s game against Roundup was called off because of COVID-19.
The Rams, who are No. 3 in the 406mtsports.com Class A rankings, are coming off a 42-0 win over No. 2 Miles City, the defending state champion. Stanton is a little worried about his team losing momentum, but extra rest won’t hurt. This week will serve as a bye before the playoffs begin on Oct. 30.
“Hopefully everybody can hang on,” Stanton said.