TIFTON — Cross your fingers, Tift County football fans. The Blue Devils may have one more home game in 2020.
Head coach Ashley Anders announced that Salem High School is scheduled to come in Nov. 20, which is the last week of the regular season.
There is a big “if” in whether the Salem game holds. Should the Region 1-7A games need to be postponed for quarantine reasons, Salem would probably be on the chopping block.
Mere hours after Anders spoke about the Salem addition Wednesday, fear of a Region 1 postponement became more tangible.
Lowndes is currently in quarantine. An announcement by Lowndes County Schools on social media stated “[a]ll football activities and games have been postponed until practice resumes on the afternoon of October 26th.” Games against Alcovy and Mitchell County are canceled.
Should the Vikings be able to resume practice on Oct. 26, the Oct. 30 Tift-Lowndes contest would likely go on as scheduled.
Colquitt County canceled its Oct. 23 game as well — also against Alcovy — because of the rising number of students in quarantine in the school system. The Packers expect to be back on the field Oct. 30 for their game against Camden County.
If Salem does remain on the schedule, this would be not just the first meeting of the schools, but the first football game between Tift County and any school from Rockdale County.
Salem had such a late week open because the Seminoles themselves are late to start the season. Rockdale County’s three public high schools were set to begin on time, but in August their superintendent canceled all fall sports. The decision was reversed in September and Salem actually opens the season tonight at Coffee.
“We lost our games and we’re trying to replace those home games,” Anders said. He had noticed that Rockdale schools were starting late and began making phone calls. Rockdale was already set for Nov. 20 against Arabia Mountain. He then called Salem. “They were interested,” he said.
The Seminoles were a 2-8 team in 2019. They qualified for state in 2018, but have only made it out of the first round in two of their seven appearances. Salem opened in 1991.
“The kids are excited about it,” he said. “Going from basically two home games to four, that’s pretty good.” And it means Tift will have the same amount of home games as originally scheduled, even if that schedule is quite different than where Anders started.
The schedule Tift turned in to the GHSA in March had them playing Valdosta, Coffee, Dothan (Ala.) and Colquitt County. Dothan had to be scrapped when the GHSA pushed football season back two weeks and Alabama did not. Valdosta and Coffee were eliminated because Tift was in quarantine.
Tonight’s game with Lee was set early on as a replacement for Dothan. Lee had originally scheduled a team from Florida and had to cancel. Tift picked up Perry right after returning from quarantine.