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J. Thomas McNamara

      Tuesday was not a good day for prep football in Decatur and central Illinois.
     Sullivan/Okaw Valley of the Central Illinois Conference announced it was canceling the remaining seven games of its varsity football schedule
       And Decatur LSA announced it was forfeiting its next two games because Covid protocols from the health department.
         Lions football head coach Jordan Hopman informed, “Haven’t been really thinking about anyone besides kids and their families.  Posted on social media because I didn’t want anyone making up their own story.

     “Macon County Health Department says we cannot resume practice for 14 days (from Saturday).  Our next game will be the 24th against Blue Ridge.
     “No idea how this will affect playoffs for us. We are moving forward with the mindset that we’ll have to win the rest or close to it,” concluded the coach.

Sullivan/Okaw Valley is the latest football program to cancel the  remainder of its season.

The Sullivan/Okaw Valley program will not compete in its final seven regular-season games this fall, Sullivan officials announced Tuesday in a social media post.

“Due to low student participation, the remaining varsity football games will be canceled for the 2021 season,” read a post on the Sullivan CUSD 300 Facebook page. “We will be playing a JV schedule, and freshman games if the opportunity arises. … We also intend to have a game on the scheduled Friday night of homecoming, but it will not be a varsity contest.

This was a very difficult decision, but it was made in the best interests of the program and the current student-athletes. We appreciate the grace that has been shown to us by opposing schools with whom we are canceling.”

The news out of Moultrie County comes after Urbana opted on Aug. 30 to go with a junior-varsity only schedule this season after the Tigers lost 65-0 to Centennial on Aug. 27.

Earlier in August, Schlarman announced it would not play football this season, either. The Hilltoppers had an 8-man program that started in 2019 after fielding their own 11-man program between 1946 and 2013.  Both Urbana and Schlarman cited low numbers in their decisions.

The football cooperative between Sullivan and Okaw Valley started in the 2005 season. The team got off to an 0-2 start this fall that included losses by 54-0 and 50-6 margins. The program has not posted a win since the 2016 season and currently is on its fourth head coach, John Bertetto, in five seasons.

I will have more on these developing stories in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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