SCHENECTADY — The Schenectady High School varsity football team’s season-opening game won’t be played this week.
Schenectady’s Week 1 non-classification game Friday against La Salle Institute was called off due to COVID-19 protocols involving the Patriots’ program. Schenectady head coach Carm DePoalo and interim athletic director Steve Boynton — who retired at the end of June, but has been temporarily filling his old position since the end of July — confirmed Wednesday that the Patriots are unable to practice again until next Tuesday after being shut down earlier this week.
“We’re disappointed,” DePoalo said. “The kids were all excited. We have the new turf and everything. But, we’ll bounce back.”
While Schenectady is unable to play this week, La Salle head coach John Audino — the former longtime coach at Union College — said his team had been unable to find a new opponent as of Wednesday evening.
“We’re going to wait until 2 p.m. [Thursday] to see what we can get,” said Audino, who said his program had reached out to potential opponents both within and outside of Section II.
Boynton and DePoalo said Schenectady County had paused the varsity football team’s activities following a positive COVID-19 test result for one of its players. Unvaccinated individuals associated with the program, DePoalo said, were directed to quarantine. DePoalo said each of the team’s coaches were previously vaccinated, while several more players had started the process of becoming vaccinated following the team’s shutdown.
Schenectady is one of several Section II teams that are dealing, or have dealt, with pandemic-related participation pauses during this opening sports season of the 2021-22 academic year. The Amsterdam boys’ soccer and Canajoharie girls’ soccer teams also canceled games this week due to pandemic-related pauses. Amsterdam athletic director Steve Nolan said Rams’ team went through a two-week pause during the preseason, leaving more than half of the players without the six practices needed to compete, which led to the postponement of two games this week. The team returned to practice Tuesday and is set to play next week. Meanwhile, Canajoharie girls’ coach Ellee Miller said her team canceled its game Tuesday against Fort Plain and a pair of weekend games at the NYSSCOGS Hall of Fame Tournament, but is slated to return to the field Monday.
The pandemic has affected high school sports in New York since the end of the winter season during the 2019-20 academic year. The entirety of that school year’s spring season was canceled, while the 2020-21 academic year’s sports seasons were all affected in one way or another, and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association didn’t sponsor state tournaments throughout the school year.
This school year’s sports seasons are slated to be conducted with full playoffs, but a variety of safety-related protocols remain in place at area schools. Still, Boynton said, situations are going to occur that dictate games and practices be called off.
“I think,” he said, “this is unfortunately going to be more of the norm.”
DePoalo said his players were “crushed” when they found out they’d be unable to play during Week 1.
“But,” DePoalo said, “we accept what it is, and we’ll be ready for next week.”
Schenectady’s Week 2 game is a Sept. 18 home game against Shaker.
“We’re ready to play,” DePoalo said, “we’ve just got to get cleared.”