It won’t be the way the Hornets want to spend opening night, but they’ll get a victory.
Rockford has forfeited their home game against Saline that was to be played Friday.
According to WOODTV, a virus sickened as many as 50 players, coaches and other people connected with the football program.
“It is his position that the game not be played due to the large percentage of athletes affected by the illness. I support Coach (Ralph) Munger’s position, therefore, the August 26 home opener has been cancelled,” Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Schibler announced in an email to parents. “This will result in Rockford forfeiting the game, keeping in mind that safety and the health of our athletes is more important,” Shibler stated in an email to parents.”
Last year, Saline opened the football season at Hornet Stadium by beating Rockford 37-24. The Rams were so intent on beating the Hornets at Rockford this year that they turned down the opportunity to play Saline at Michigan Stadium.
After a summer of hard work and practice, the Hornets are disappointed they won’t be playing on opening night.
“It's always disappointing not being able to play on Friday nights,” senior DE Sean O’Keefe said. “I hope Rockford's players get healthy soon. We are just going to work on getting better and being ready for our next opponent.”
Senior QB Zach Schwartzenberger agreed.
“It's really unfortunate. We were really fired up to play because it was going to be a really fun game between two strong programs. We are disappointed that we can't play but things were out of our control,” Schwartzenberger said. “Now we have to start to focus on next week.”
Coach Joe Palka there are a lot of disappointed Hornets today.
“It is what it is. I’m sure (Rockford school officials) didn’t make this decision lightly. Our kids really felt ready to go. We felt it was going to be a tough challenge and a really good game,” Palka said.
Palka said he can’t recall a team ever forfeiting a game due to illness.
“It must be pretty serious. I’ve never seen this in my career,” Palka said. “I’ve seen small teams get banged up and not be able to finish the season. But I don’t ever remember anything like this.”
Palka said the team will make the best of it to prepare for the Sept. 2 home opener against Windsor Holy Names and the upcoming SEC Red season.
“This all unfolded pretty quickly tonight, so we’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do,” Palka said. “We might use the night off to scout some of our SEC opponents.”
Palka said while the team wanted the test of playing Rockford, he’s not overly concerned.
“We played some very good teams in the scrimmaging and probably scrimmaged more than most teams. It’s still not a game test, though,” Palka said.
Last Saturday, a water polo tournament at Skyline and Pioneer was cancelled after fears of norovirus. The Skyline pool was cleaned and officials from Ann Arbor Public Schools said there was no confirmation of norovirus.
Saline and Rockford water polo teams were among the teams sent home, though Saline did not play in the Skyline pool.