In what is already an abbreviated season, West Virginia State and the University of Charleston’s 2021 spring football slate has been shortened even more as their games scheduled for this weekend have been canceled.
The Yellow Jackets (2-1) were slated to take on UNC Pembroke this weekend, but had that game moved up to March 20 (a 48-21 loss to the Braves) due to cancellations elsewhere in the league at the time. Now, West Virginia State has no opponent to play this week, as teams conference-wide have canceled their games and seasons.
The Golden Eagles (2-0) were going to take on West Virginia Wesleyan this weekend but on Tuesday night news broke of that game’s cancellation. UC coach Pat Kirkland doesn’t know exactly why the game was canceled, but surmises that it was related to COVID-19.
“We don’t get a lot of details [from the Mountain East Conference],” Kirkland said. “I’m assuming [the game was canceled] for COVID-related issues.”
West Virginia State coach John Pennington talked about his game being called off.
“Anything can happen, we have to be ready and prepared for anything that comes our way,” he said. “I know we’re going to play football, I have a good feeling we’re going to play next weekend.”
As a result of the cancellations, both State and UC will play a fraction of the six originally scheduled games. State will play four games and UC will play three, barring more cancellations.
The only remaining regular-season game on the teams’ schedules is when they face off against each other at UC Stadium on April 10. Kirkland said he tried to move that game up to this weekend but was unable to do so.
“You want [players] to have the opportunity to play and they’re working hard,” Kirkland said. “We tried to move the State game up but we were not successful.”
Both teams are coming off wins last week. The Yellow Jackets defeated Glenville State 37-27 and the Golden Eagles handled UNC Pembroke 42-24. Kirkland and Pennington said the cancellations don’t hurt their momentum coming off wins and are going to use this off weekend to rest.
“I think a little bit of time off [is good],” Pennington said. “It’s not a physical fatigue but a mental fatigue. I think everyone was kind of relieved to have Easter weekend off just to take the pressure off for a couple days.”
“These players have a lot going on academically, I believe there’s two more weeks of classes and then they have finals,” Kirkland said. “We’re gonna give them this weekend to mentally take a little bit of a break from football and focus on some academics.”