Chrisman forfeits to Grain Valley because of COVID-19 concerns

By Bill Althaus

The Class 5 District 7 semifinal between William Chrisman and host Grain Valley scheduled for Friday night will not be played because the Chrisman football team is dealing with a COVID-19 issue, the school announced Thursday.

Chrisman students and their families were notified today about the cancellation. When a game is forfeited in the district playoffs, that means it’s the end of the season for that team.

“We had two players test positive for COVID and we are taking the best safety precautions we know, and that is to not play the game,” Chrisman activities director Greg McGhee said Thursday night. “Safety is the No. 1 concern, and we all wish we were playing, but we made the right decision and we wish Grain Valley luck the rest of the way.”

The Bears finish with a 2-8 record after a 49-12 win over Ruskin in last week’s district opener.

“We found out about the game being canceled this afternoon,” Grain Valley activities director Brandon Hart said. “We are so sorry to see the Chrisman football season end this way. They are a quality opponent and we were looking forward to playing them.”

The cancellation means the 8-1 Eagles will go a second straight week without playing a game. They were the No. 1 district seed, and because there are seven teams in their district, they drew an opening-week bye.

“One bye week is good, because it helps you get healthy,” Hart said, “but two weeks without playing football in the playoffs is a real hindrance. You’ve got some 16- and 17-year-olds who might not be as focused as they would be if we would have played this week.

“But, on the plus side, we’re still playing and we have some great senior leaders who will keep everyone focused.”

Because the game will not be played, Grain Valley coach David Allie and members of his staff will be at Belton Friday night to watch the matchup between the host Pirates (9-1) and Raytown (7-3) in the other semifinal.

Allie’s Eagles will play the winner of that game. Grain Valley defeated Belton 22-0 in the regular season and lost to the Blue Jays 21-14 on the final play of the game.

“We’re taking some of the staff to Belton, and the rest of our staff is going to watch the game online,” Allie said, as his entire staff cannot attend the game because of COVID-19 restrictions. “We’re going to get together after the game and start putting a game plan together.

“It doesn’t matter who wins Friday night, we’re going to have a tough opponent next week, and that game comes after we’ve been off two weeks.”

However, Allie said his Eagles enjoyed a solid week of practice in preparation for Chrisman.

“Who knows, if this would have been announced earlier in the week, we might not have had a good week of practice,” the coach said. “And the guys really got after it this week. We had a great week of practice, and I’m expecting another great week of practice next week.”