• James Townsend

Portland football season ends due to COVID


On Sunday evening, Portland high school football players were still savoring their thrilling victory over Grand Rapids West Catholic. Their Friday night win had them on course to face their next opponent, Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Friday, November 13th.

Before the team could start reviewing film and preparing for their district championship game, their season came to a crushing end.

Players were notified on Sunday night that their season was over. A casualty of COVID-19.

The start of the 2020 season was delayed due to COVID concerns, and everyone involved in the Portland football program knew that the season could be stopped or even ended at any time, but learning that the entire team was quarantined on Sunday night was a painful blow.

With the team’s quarantine, they will be forced to forfeit to Catholic Central, and their 2020 playoff-run will come to an unfortunate end.

The Portland High School Boys Soccer and Girls Volleyball teams were also quarantined at one point during the fall 2020 season, but the timing of those did not end the respective seasons.

Portland Public School Superintendent Will Heath told the Beacon, “The past year has been difficult on everyone in every way imaginable. As a district we continue to try and provide as much normalcy as possible within our required guidelines around health and safety. It is important for our students to experience some of the same things that they would in a normal year. We have worked hard to find ways to recreate events so that this can happen. While it may not look and feel the same it is still something. I am so proud of our football team and coaching staff. Up until yesterday we were able to have a season without issue. The team should be proud of their efforts, both on and off the field. We are not finishing the season the way we would like but we did finish with an impressive win against one of our biggest rivals. For a few hours last Friday night our football team provided an exciting moment that felt normal. Nice job to all involved this season to make some memories for our players. My hope is that some day we can look back at this year and talk about what we accomplished together against all odds.”

In district wide emails sent to parents in the last two days, Portland Public Schools reported two confirmed cases at PHS on Sunday, along with one probable positive at Westwood Elementary and one additional positive at PHS on Monday.

The Raiders are far from alone in ending the football playoff runs due to COVID. Michigan High School Athletic Association Media and Content Coordinator Geoff Kimmerly told the Beacon on Monday that, “We've had 20 teams withdraw from the playoffs over the last two weeks because of COVID.”

WLNS News reported Monday afternoon that Pewamo-Westphalia has forfeited their playoff football game with Ithaca. The report did not specify if the forfeit was COVID related, but the timing seems to suggest COVID may have played some part in the decision.

As of November 6th, the Ionia County Health Department had identified 157 Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Portland’s 48875 zip code. At close of business on November 5th, the county reported 953 confirmed cases in the county.

The Raider football season ends with a seven win and one loss record. The Raiders were also the 2020 CAAC White League Champions.

The weekly results are listed below:

Date Time Host Opponent W/L Score

9/18/2020 7:00 PM A DeWitt L 3-37

9/25/2020 * 7:00 PM A Charlotte W 33-0

10/2/2020 * 7:00 PM H Lansing Catholic W 21-7

10/9/2020 * 7:00 PM A Eaton Rapids W 52-24

10/16/2020 * 7:00 PM A Ionia W 42-0

10/24/2020 1:00 PM H Battle Creek Pennfield W 28-16

10/30/2020 7:00 PM H Lake Odessa Lakewood W 51-7

11/6/2020 7:00 PM A Grand Rapids West Catholic W 28-21

* Denotes league contest

Pictured above is the Raider team taking the field at Grand Rapids West Catholic on November 6th.

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