ELLSWORTH — COVID-19 troubles late this week have wiped out Hancock County’s entire Week 2 high school football schedule.
Ellsworth/Sumner’s home game against Camden Hills, Bucksport’s home matchup against Poland and Mount Desert Island’s home battle with Morse are all off for this week. The games, all three of which were originally set to kick off at 7 p.m. today, Sept. 10, will not be rescheduled.
Ellsworth/Sumner was the first of the three teams to cancel its Week 2 game when it called off the Camden Hills showdown Thursday afternoon. The Eagles, who have a roster size of 23 at full strength, did not have enough healthy players to go forward with their eight-man contest against the Windjammers.
“Too many players needed to quarantine,” Ellsworth Athletic Director Josh Frost told The American of Ellsworth/Sumner’s cancellation. “[It was] not safe to play with only one day’s notice.”
Bucksport entered Friday with plans to open the season against a Poland team fresh off a Week 1 bye. Yet those plans were dashed shortly before noon as the school announced the cancellation of what was set to be the Golden Bucks’ home opener.
At the time of the cancellation, Bucksport did not have a confirmed COVID-19 case within the program. With multiple players being deemed close contacts of a Bucksport High School student who did test positive, though, Regional School Unit 25 administration chose to cancel the game.
“Bucksport High School was informed today of a positive case of COVID-19 associated with the high school,” RSU 25 Superintendent Jim Boothby said in a statement issued Friday. “Through the process of contact tracing, it was determined it was necessary to cancel tonight’s football game with Poland Regional High School.”
Earlier Friday, MDI announced it was moving its game against Morse from today to tomorrow, Sept. 11, because of wet field conditions. Yet later Friday afternoon, administration identified what MDI Regional School System Superintendent Marc Gousse called “a potential outbreak of COVID-19” (three or more confirmed cases of the virus determined to be “epidemiologically linked”) at the school.
“We have contacted the Maine CDC to begin an investigation to determine the next step,” Gousse said in a letter distributed Friday to MDI Regional School System families. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are canceling all extracurricular activities this weekend.”
Although the games were the first Hancock County football games lost to COVID-19 this season, the late-week developments are far from the first shakeup to the local football schedule this year. Last week, Ellsworth/Sumner’s season opener against Houlton was played on a Saturday afternoon after the Shiretowners were unable to secure transportation for a Friday trip to Ellsworth. Houlton won the game 74-6.
MDI’s Week 1 plans were also altered as Stearns/Schenck, which was originally set to face Mount View, made arrangements to play the Trojans in Bar Harbor following positive COVID-19 cases in the Mount View program. The Trojans, who lost to Stearns/Schenck 48-42, had been preparing for a bye week after the cancellation of Washington Academy’s season gave the team an open date.
The total number of Maine high school football contests canceled as a result of the novel COVID-19 this year now stands at 10. In addition to the Hancock County cancellations, five scheduled Week 1 games were axed, and Hermon was forced to postpone its Week 2 game against Leavitt and Week 3 game against Belfast after 21 cases of the virus were reported at the school
Ellsworth/Sumner previously had its schedule reduced from seven games to six following the cancellation of Washington Academy’s season. The Eagles are now down to a five-game slate, though that could change should COVID-19 issues in another eight-man program free up a prospective opponent for the team’s open date in Week 4.
Bucksport, previously scheduled to play eight games, will now play a seven-game schedule. Although the Golden Bucks could use Week 2 as the team’s new bye week in lieu of the team’s scheduled bye next Friday, Sept. 17, Athletic Director Aaron Ward said no further changes to the team’s 2021 slate are planned at this time.
Should no additional COVID-19 issues arise, Ellsworth/Sumner (at Waterville) and MDI (at Orono; game to be played at the University of Maine’s Alfond Stadium) will play 7 p.m. games next Friday. Bucksport (0-1) will follow next week’s bye with a home game against John Bapst at 7 the following Friday, Sept. 24.
Update: This story has been amended to include additional information from Bucksport High School as well as an updated list of COVID-related football cancellations.