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Cliff Williams / The Outlook Wetumpka’s Robert Rose (10) hands off to Jaedyn Peterson (8) against Benjamin Russell.

Wetumpka was scheduled to make a trip south this Friday night for a midseason non-region game against Greenville. However, the Elmore County Board of Education announced Monday that Wetumpka’s varsity football activities are suspended due to COVID-19.

Twelve players have tested positive and eight others are self-isolated due to exposure to a positive case of COVID-19.

Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines require 10 days self-isolation for positive cases of COVID-19, and the Alabama High School Athletic Association requires an additional five days of re-acclimation before a student returns to competition. The ADPH requires 14 days of self-isolation for exposure to a positive case of COVID-19 before a student returns to competition.

“We’ve never been through anything like this before,” Wetumpka football coach Tim Perry said. “We said health and welfare of players, coaches and their families will be the No. 1 priority. This decision was made to keep all of those people safe. No one plans for something like this to happen but we knew this could be a possibility.”

Wetumpka is coming off a big bounce-back victory over Benjamin Russell but the team was already dealing with some players sitting out with concerns of exposure. The team was without 14 total players in that game and gave the opportunity to several younger players to get some quality experience. 

“Friday night gave us a big boost,” Perry said. “We had some guys out and some young guys really stepped up. There were a lot of challenges. The more success we have will help give them more confidence and allow them to believe in themselves.”

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Unfortunately, those players will not have a chance to build off that success right away with at least one game being canceled. While working together as a team is off the table for this week, Perry said he is confident his players will handle work on their own as they did over the summer when sports were shut down.

“We’re going to reach out to them and make sure they are working out to stay in shape,” Perry said. “We’ll stay in contact with the players and provide them with as much information as we can to keep them prepared. We can still do Zoom meetings so we’ll make sure to still take advantage of that technology.”

There are still plenty of unknowns to the situation as it is unclear whether the game will count as a forfeit loss or just a canceled contract between the two schools. The team is also still unsure when it will be able to return to the field yet.

“There are all kinds of challenges to that,” Perry said. “The situation we’re all in right now is that it’s an invisible opponent. Everything was going fine for those seven weeks without an incident but then we had one. The challenge is not knowing who we may have but we have to have kids step up.”

The Wetumpka High School administration and coaching staff will reevaluate the team’s health status on Sept. 28 and discuss options. The WHS coaching staff and administration regret the suspension but feel it is the most prudent and safest option to pursue at this time.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.