Helena cancels next 2 games due to COVID-19, including Friday’s rivalry with Pelham

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HELENA – After a big bounce-back win against Benjamin Russell following two consecutive losses by six points or less, the Helena Huskies will now take a big hit to their season after being forced to cancel their next two games due to COVID-19 cases within the program.

The announcement that the Huskies would have to cancel their rivalry matchup on Friday, Sept. 18 with the Pelham Panthers at home and a road non-region contest with McAdory on Sept. 25, came on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 15, in a joint release from Helena High School Principal April Brand and Athletic Director/Football Coach Richie Busby.

“Over the past several days we have been monitoring COVID-19 related cases within our football program,” the statement read. “From the beginning, our school staff has worked diligently to follow all recommended guidelines from the ADPH and AHSAA concerning contact tracing and quarantining. Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to cancel our next two football games so that any affected individuals have ample time to recover and to hopefully slow any additional spread. Our goal in taking these precautions is that it will give us the best chance to finish the season without additional interruption.”

With that decision, Helena will now forfeit both of those games and the break also comes at a time where the Huskies seemed to be finding a rhythm.

Sitting at 2-2 on the season, Helena improved to 1-1 in region play last week with a 48-14 win against Benjamin Russell. The Huskies had lost the previous two games by six points or less, including their region opener against Wetumpka by a final of 28-22.

It seemed as if they were close early in the season, and then against Benjamin Russell seemed to have everything click just ahead of a big showdown with rival Pelham in what might have been the biggest game of the season.

Last year, the Huskies beat Pelham for the first time in school history by a final score of 62-20. And with the Panthers at 3-1 overall and 2-0 in region play, that game was setting up to be one of the more thrilling in the state this week.

Instead, Helena will now forfeit the next two games to fall to 2-4 on the season and 1-2 in region play. Luckily the Huskies will only miss one region game, which will help their chances at a postseason spot stay alive.

Pelham head coach Tom Causey said the team found out while on the practice field Tuesday afternoon preparing for the rivalry matchup with the Huskies.

Causey said he doesn’t know yet if they will find a new opponent for Friday night yet or if it will be an extra week of rest before a scheduled non-region matchup with the Chelsea Hornets the following Friday.

The Panthers will get a forfeit win against the Huskies to improve to 4-1 on the season with a perfect 3-0 mark in region play.