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Lancaster Homecoming game with Southwestern cancelled
Wildcats have just six eligible players due to COVID issues and injuries
Jacob Divall
Lancaster junior quarterback Jacob Divall breaks through an opening in the Flying Arrows' 38–33 SWAL win over Mineral Point last Friday night. Lancaster is currently searching for a Homecoming opponent after Southwestern had to forfeit this week's game due to a lack of players. - photo by photo by A.J. Gates / Herald Independent

EDIT (Thursday, Sept. 30): Since this story was originally published Wednesday afternoon, Lancaster has scheduled River Ridge to fill Southwestern's spot in Friday night's Homecoming Game. River Ridge was left without a Homecoming game when Iowa–Grant had to forfeit due to a lack of players due to COVID issues. River Ridge will travel to Lancaster Friday night and the host Flying Arrows will accommodate the Timberwolves Homecoming festivities as well. Both Homecoming courts will be announced before the game, and halftime will be extended for both schools to take part in Homecoming activities at the half.

LANCASTER — While there are often times a plethora of activities associated with Homecoming week, the Friday night football game has always been at the center of those festivities.

That will not be the case this Friday night for Lancaster High School, which had its football game against visiting Southwestern cancelled Tuesday afternoon due to injuries and COVID-related issues affecting the Southwestern football team.

According to Southwestern High School Activities Director Tom Koeller, Southwestern, which started the season with 17 total football players (freshman through seniors) was down to 13 following last week’s game due to injuries, and this week down to just six eligible players due to COVID-related issues.

As of Wednesday morning, Southwestern, which held its Homecoming festivities last week, had a total of 63 high school students sent home from school due to COVID-related issues, which is 41 percent of its student enrollment of 153.

Most football teams in the area have been affected one way or another during the COVID pandemic, but their numbers have allowed them to replace those players missing for those games, which isn’t the case for Southwestern this season.

Southwestern (3–3, 1–3 Six Rivers) has also forfeited next week’s game against Pecatonica/Argyle, and is not yet sure about its season finale against Benton/Scales Mound/Shullsburg. That decision will be dependent on how many players they have eligible after 14 days of quarantine.

With Friday night’s forfeit, the Flying Arrows will improve their conference record to 4–1 and clinch a playoff berth, extending Lancaster's playoff appearance streak to 29 years, as the SWAL/Six Rivers crossover game with the Wildcats counts towards playoff eligibility.

While Lancaster Athletic Director Brett Rollins has been searching for a replacement game since being notified by Southwestern Tuesday morning, as of Wednesday afternoon, he has not found anyone willing to travel to Lancaster in such short notice.

The four schools Rollins has contacted, also have Homecoming this week, and like Lancaster, doesn’t exactly want to travel on their Homecoming.

If Lancaster is able to find an opponent willing to come to Lancaster, the game would not count towards their record, but could play a role at their seeding meeting.

On a separate scheduling issue, Lancaster’s varsity and junior varsity volleyball matches against River Valley, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 14, have been rescheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 7, due to conflicts finding officials.