The opening week of the high school football season isn’t until Aug. 23, but McGuffey is already 1-0.
Now, the Highlanders are trying to find an opponent for Week 1 – the second game of the season Aug. 30.
The district received a letter Thursday that stated Northgate, which was scheduled to play the Highlanders in Week 1, had forfeited.
“We got the letter and it was dated July 18,” football coach Ed Dalton said. “It makes us a little unprepared to make any moves. I don’t think you want a week off because you want as many opportunities to play. That’s why we play in Week Zero.”
The game was supposed to be the home opener for Northgate.
“Most people felt that we had more to lose than gain from playing McGuffey,” Northgate coach Michael Fulmore said. “I know it was discussed amongst our school board and administration. Last year, we had five kids get hurt during that game. The decision really fell back on the safety of our players and the health of our program.”
McGuffey defeated Northgate last year, 48-0. That was part of a seven-game winning streak to begin the season for the Highlanders.
The Flames were 0-10 last season and shut out five times.
“In my conversations with the WPIAL over the years, games are aligned according to size of school and location,” Fulmore said. “That game doesn’t apply to either one of those stipulations. We are considered a bigger Class A school but only compete with 20 kids on the roster. We are a small school trying to keep our football program alive.”
The forfeit will automatically give McGuffey a victory.
“It’s something I can’t control so I can’t get frustrated about it,” Dalton said. “I guess we have to deal with it. We are trying to turn lemons into lemonade. It almost gives a disadvantage to our opponent in Week 3 (Frazier) because that’s one less game they get to see us on film.”
Dalton has reached out to Newark Catholic High School near Columbus, Ohio, for the possibility of meeting for a game. Newark Catholic was also searching for a Week 1 game after its opponent, Zanesville Rosencrans, dropped its football program.
McGuffey is scheduled to open its season Aug. 23 at Ambridge.
“I don’t know what to say,” Dalton said. “This stuff never happens.”