Oneida and Scott High will both have open dates this week, after their scheduled games were canceled due to covid.
Austin-East’s game against the Highlanders was canceled on Saturday, and Oliver Springs’ game against the Indians was canceled on Tuesday.
With both teams having an open date, Scott High reached out to Oneida about the possibility of the two teams playing, but the Indians declined, the Independent Herald has learned.
Scott High athletics director Eric Henry contacted Oneida athletics director Jimmy May on Wednesday morning. The Highlanders requested a game to be played in Huntsville due to seating capacity, though that as apparently not a firm stipulation. Reportedly, Scott High offered to play the game in Oneida as an alternative.
The Highlanders also offered to sign a contract for a two-year home-and-home series that would have seen the two teams meet this year in Oneida and play again next season in Huntsville. However, that was reportedly also not a firm stipulation in order for a game to be scheduled this season.
Another proposal placed on the table by Scott High would have been to play the game on Saturday, giving each team an extra day of preparation and making it easier to secure referees.
Although the two teams haven’t met in football since 1982, the Independent Herald has learned that there was widespread interest on both sides — Oneida as well as Scott High — in making the game happen, since both teams will otherwise lose a game to covid. However, May was apparently unconvinced that the two teams should play. Reportedly, he indicated to Scott High during the discussion early Wednesday that he was not interested in playing. And although other discussions took place through the day at Oneida, it appeared by late Wednesday that focus was turning to next week’s games.
Scott High fans have long clamored for a return of the old rivalry, which ended while Jim May and Jack Diggs were coaching the respective teams. But interest in bringing the games back has increased across the board in recent years, and Oneida fans were equally eager in seeing a game scheduled between the two. Players from both teams — both current and former — are also universally in favor of resuming the rivalry.
Since neither team has a game scheduled this week, both will pick up a covid win. That will push Oneida’s record to 3-1, while the Highlanders will improve to 1-2. However, the wins mean little in the grand scheme of things, since the games that were scheduled for Friday were non-region games that won’t count towards the playoff standings.
The bigger issue is that both teams will lose a home game. That’s especially critical for Oneida, which already had just four home games on the schedule. Losing a game this week drops the Indians to only three home games for the season, and that loss of revenue was already a concern — moreso because the Indians only had four home games last year after losing the Coalfield game to covid.
Friday was to have been Oneida’s homecoming game. Spirit week activities have been taking place since students returned from the 3-day holiday weekend on Tuesday, and a homecoming parade is scheduled for Friday morning. The school has not yet announced whether it will move forward with homecoming festivities on Friday even in the absence of a game.
Reportedly, Oliver Springs canceled its game with Oneida due to a combination of covid quarantines and injuries. The Bobcats are attempting to prepare for a critical region showdown with Greenback next week.
Austin-East was forced to cancel its game with Scott High by a state rule that requires schools on a virtual schedule to cancel extra-curricular activities. Knox County Schools announced Saturday that A-E and Knox Central were moving to virtual learning through Sept. 12.
The Knox County Board of Education and Mayor Glenn Jacobs signed a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee this week, asking him to sign an executive order that would allow schools on a virtual schedule to continue playing sports. If the governor were to sign that order, Scott High’s game against Austin-East could be played as originally scheduled. However, the governor’s office had not responded as of Wednesday evening.
Scott High is next scheduled to be in action at Knox Carter on Sept. 17, while Oneida is next scheduled to be in action at York Institute the same evening.