Jenks’ trip to Enid ends in canceled game, confusion
It said 6:20 p.m. on the clock and the Jenks football team was dressed out in all-white road uniforms getting warmed up for its first district game of the 2020 season.
In a world that has gone haywire, playing 48 minutes under the Friday night lights gives these young men a sense of normalcy that just isn’t there in day-to-day life right now.
I had just made the two-hour drive from Jenks to Enid with my father and were walking into Dr. Bruce Selby Stadium. As we entered the gate, the Trojans were on their way back to the locker room.
I didn’t think anything of it. I just figured they were heading back for their pregame talk with their coaches before taking on the Plainsmen.
Boy was I wrong.
As we prepared to walk onto the field, I was met by Jenks Assistant Athletic Director Jason Culler and Athletic Director Tony Dillingham. They informed me the game had just been canceled.
At first, I thought they were joking, but I quickly realized they were as serious as they could be.
Culler told me Garfield County Health Officials had just called Enid to inform them they could not play the game because of a possible COVID-19 exposure from one of the Plainsmen players.
Enid’s junior varsity squad played Guthrie’s JV this past Monday and a Guthrie player has tested positive for the virus since that game, so Garfield County Health Officials put the axe on Friday’s varsity district game.
The stunning news came as a massive disappointment to Jenks players, coaches, staff and fans, as many questions were raised at the timing of the announcement.
At 6:20 p.m., Jenks and Enid were both on the field preparing to open district play. By 6:23 p.m. the game was canceled, and these young men and their families were left wondering how and why.
“It is really unfortunate for both teams, especially with the timing, just right before kickoff.” Jenks coach Keith Riggs said. “Both teams have prepared all week for the game. I know our kids are very disappointed. They were looking forward to their first district game. That is the situation we are in right now. It can change at moments notice. We have to be able to roll with the punches when things change and deal with it and keep moving forward.”
To top off the confusion, Enid still went through with its Senior Night festivities for its players, cheer and pom and the band members.
According to Enid officials, the Garfield County Health Department gave them the “OK” to go ahead with those plans. However, the football game was to be canceled.
It seems to me if you are worried enough about the potential exposure to COVID-19 from your players to cancel the football game, you probably should be just as worried about your senior players walking with linked arms with their parents, but what do I know?
I can’t imagine being a high school athlete right now or for that matter, a high school student. Every day you wake up, you have no idea what you’re going to be told to do. You have no idea if that will be your last day in the classroom or your final day suiting up with your teammates.
The mixed signals these young people are receiving daily would drive just about anyone crazy, but they handle it well.
Jenks is scheduled to host Broken Arrow next Friday in another district showdown. The Tigers’ game against Westmoore, which was scheduled for Friday, was also canceled because of COVID-19.
No one knows for sure if the game will be played next week, but these young men will go back to work and prepare as if they are playing. To do that takes discipline.
Much more discipline than I would have had at their age.