Before Celina could take the field last Friday against Paul Pewitt, head coach Bill Elliott knew that game might be the last time his Bobcats would play for a couple weeks.
Not long before Celina’s eventual 55-0 thrashing of Pewitt, Elliott made the call to cancel an Oct. 2 meeting against Boerne. The Bobcats were scheduled to travel to San Antonio to play the Greyhounds at the Alamodome.
Given the game’s proximity to the start of district play, coupled with concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Elliott said the decision was made out of wanting to preserve his roster for the beginning of the team’s conference schedule on Oct. 9.
“It was just a matter of a lot of different things. The travel, with us going virtual at the high school with some kids that were positive — we didn’t have anyone on the team,” Elliott said. “I got with some buddies of mine in college and the outbreaks they’ve had when they’ve traveled long distances and come back and you end up getting 30, 40, 50 kids testing positive together because they’ve been on a bus for so long.
“I just didn’t think it was wise going into district to do that and take the chance of our kids not being healthy enough to play in a district ballgame.”
The Bobcats and Greyhounds had set up a two-year home-and-home slate at sites away from the respective high schools. This year’s Celina-Boerne game was slated to take place at the Alamodome, with next year bringing the Greyhounds to the Metroplex to meet the Bobcats at The Star in Frisco.
“When I explained it to our kids, obviously playing [in the Alamodome] would have been cool, but being able to win district and make a run in the playoffs would mean a lot more to them,” Elliott said.
That didn’t deter the coach from trying to find a new, closer opponent for Friday. However, that equation requires another dance partner, and as of Wednesday afternoon, the Bobcats were still without someone to play this week.
“I’ve talked to people all the way out to Canadian and Bushland. It’s probably in the range of about 15-20 schools that I’ve talked to,” Elliott said. “Some weren’t willing to play and others were taking sort of a reset deal. You look at your situation, where you’re at and what’s best for your kids. I know a lot of people just look at it and say, ‘Man, you just need to play.’ Not necessarily — it’s a weird year and we want to be able to play those district ballgames.”
Elliott said that he’d continue searching for an opponent through Wednesday and if nothing had materialized, Celina would take off Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 in preparation for the team’s district opener Oct. 9 at Aubrey.
Although the Bobcats wouldn’t be afforded one last chance to iron out any kinks before beginning their conference schedule, Elliott looked at the time off as a chance to heal up after playing without six starters Friday against Pewitt.
“There are some games here and there, and we could still find something. But with everything going on right now, we’ve had a great of workouts so far, sometimes it’s not bad to reset and get healthy,” Elliott said. “We’re getting some good time in working on ourselves and improving on some things that needed improving anyways. It’ll get us back to 100% healthy for when we start district.”
Although Elliott admitted some initial concerns about taking two weeks off between games, his confidence in the work put in by his players during practice time alleviates any worries about the team losing any luster after posting its first win of the season.
“We’ll get good work in against ourselves. You have some worries about some of that, but I know how our kids are and I know that making sure our kids are able to play is the biggest concern,” Elliott said.
“It wouldn’t do us much good if we played, some kids got sick and weren’t able to play that first district ballgame.”
Celina currently sits at 1-3 on the season, dropping consecutive outings against Melissa (32-20) and Paris (10-7) and Argyle (35-21) before catching fire Friday against a Pewitt squad that played for a Class 3A Division II state championship last season.
“It was a really tough preseason. We played four really good teams and in those first three, we felt like we had chances to win all of them. We played Argyle closer than anyone has so far,” Elliott said. “You hate losing, but iron sharpens iron. We were getting tested, seeing our weak spots and where we needed to improve. Our young kids were getting experience and you could see that pay off last Friday against a team that played for a state championship last year.”