Valley high school football teams overcoming obstacles with COVID cancellations


NEW WILMINGTON, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – High School football scheduling has been unlike ever before. Between cancellations due to COVID protocols to low numbers within programs, nearly two dozen games have been canceled so far, leaving teams looking for games.

“Oh it is definitely more nervewracking, to be honest with you,” says Wilmington head coach Brandon Phillian. “Really, every week for the players, the families, the coaches it is almost like you have to hold your breath.”

Wilmington had their Week 3 game canceled on that Monday due to COVID issues in the Oil City program. Leaving Phillian and his staff on a mad dash to find a game.

“Off the top of my head, I probably reached out to 16 different schools,” Phillian says. “It became a real scramble to find a game. At different points in time we thought we had some different opponents and then it was a Thursday morning we scheduled Liberty-Benton. Pretty much felt like the time I got home from practice Monday afternoon until Wednesday night at 11 p.m. I was pretty much on my phone non-stop reaching out to folks trying to find the boys a game.”

One tool that coaches are using to find last-minute games is social media. Many teams have their own personal accounts and many media members are sharing what games have been canceled. And in Wilmington’s case, they found a last-minute game just like that.

“One of our young coaches, Jason Hess, sent a Twitter message and that is what got the response,” Phillians says. “Coach Garlock exchanged contact information and that is how we got a game.”

Phillian says that the most important thing to him is making sure the kids get to play the game they love.

“That has really been the sentiment all season long. And not just here in Wilmington but across Pennsylvania and Ohio,” says Phillian. “These boys have invested so much, they put so much time, energy, effort and so much of themselves to compete in the game they love.”

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