WESLACO — The Weslaco High Panthers, who were getting ready and making their final preparations to kick off their 2020 high school football season in the Rio Grande Valley, will have to wait a bit longer now to make their return to the gridiron.
Weslaco ISD announced in a news release Saturday afternoon that the Panthers’ football program will postpone its first two scheduled games of the season due to two positive cases reported within the program over the weekend.
“Following health and safety protocols, the entire Weslaco High Panthers football program will enter quarantine for 14 days,” the Weslaco school district said in a written statement. “Those individuals who were in close contact with these individuals have been notified and have been given further instructions. At no time were the students in a classroom as the students were attending school virtually. Weslaco ISD is following all TEA and CDC guidelines.”
The district did not disclose the identities of the student-athletes with confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 due to HIPAA privacy protections surrounding personal medical records.
Weslaco High was scheduled to kick off the 2020 high school football season by hosting the Harlingen High Cardinals in both teams’ season opener Friday, Oct. 23 and the Donna North Chiefs on Friday, Oct. 30 at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco, where the Panthers have been practicing for the past three weeks.
The Weslaco East Wildcats, however, have reported no positive COVID-19 cases to date and will continue with their regular-season slate as scheduled for now.
The Panthers, meanwhile, have been conducting practices in isolated and socially-distanced position groups throughout summer strength and conditioning and the first three weeks of practice, screening student-athletes every morning before handing out wristbands to denote who has been marked safe to play.
The Weslaco ISD news release said the Panthers football program was “canceling” its games against Harlingen High and Donna North, but head football coaches throughout District 32-6A have told The Monitor that in the event of canceled games this season, zone games will take priority in the event of a shortened window of playing time.
Under that original plan devised by the district’s head coaches, Donna North, Harlingen High, Harlingen South and Weslaco would be grouped together into a west zone, while Brownsville Hanna, Brownsville Rivera, Los Fresnos and San Benito would comprise 32-6A’s east zone.
“We will be meeting on Monday with 32-6A (coaches and athletic coordinators) to see what our options are,” Weslaco High head football coach and athletic coordinator Roy Stroman said in response to an inquiry from The Monitor. “We are staying positive and we will continue to make sure our team’s health is our top priority.”