Hank Williams Jr.’s anthemic jingle, “Are you ready for some football?” is presumably aimed at NFL fans on Monday night.
But in an unprecedented turn of events for those involved, North Medford’s football game against South Eugene has been postponed to Monday night due to smoke from wildfires.
“As long as they play that ‘Monday Night Football’ song, we’ll be all right,” said Amy Tiger, director of athletics for the Medford School District. “Because we’re ready to play some football.”
Originally South Eugene’s home game for Friday night, the contest initially was postponed to Saturday due to poor air quality in Eugene. North Medford players and staff were preparing to board the bus Friday morning when they learned of the postponement.
With conditions looking good Friday afternoon in Medford, the game site was moved to Spiegelberg Stadium. But as air quality in the valley unexpectedly worsened Saturday morning, the venue was switched to Roseburg High.
Finally, as conditions deteriorated in Roseburg, South Eugene called off the game for Saturday and rescheduled for Monday at 5 p.m. on its home field. It was one of a number of prep events postponed or canceled that day.
And in yet another dramatic delay on Saturday, the entire Black Tornado team had boarded its bus, which began rolling out of the parking lot when in came the second call to cancel.
“The kids are disappointed,” North coach Mike Mitchell said. “They’re kids — they just want to play the game.”
North Medford now faces the daunting task of preparing to play two games within a span of five days. The team is scheduled to host Sheldon next Friday at Spiegelberg, but has requested Sheldon delay the game until Saturday, Sept. 23.
“We’ll certainly respect whatever they (Sheldon) decide, but that would be one option,” Mitchell said.
“What we’re really concerned about right now is South Eugene,” he added. “That’s a much more important game than what’s gonna happen with Sheldon. We’re not hitting on all cylinders yet. We’re gonna stayed focused on South Eugene until we play South Eugene. Hopefully, that will be Monday.”
Rest and physical recovery during a short week, as it relates to player safety, is not a concern, Mitchell said.
“The worst thing is not to play,” he said, adding that outright cancellations of games remains a possibility, a situation that could “really screw things up for the playoffs.”
The scheduling snafus have been frustrating for students, coaches, parents and fans alike, but all have been very patient and handled the adversity of the situation well, Tiger said.
“One of the players told me when he was getting off the bus, ‘We’ll play any place, any time,’” she said.
And with a cloud of uncertainty hovering over their season schedule, they won’t be afforded a choice.
— Reach reporter Mike Oxendine at 541-776-4499 or firstname.lastname@example.org