Northside cancels game, practices amid outbreak

FORT SMITH – Within the past week, Northside’s football team has been greatly affected by several people testing positive for the coronavirus.

As a result, due to that and any further COVID-19 concerns, the Grizzlies’ game at Greenwood scheduled for this Friday has been canceled and that practices have been put on hold for at least this week. The announcement was officially made Sunday night from Fort Smith Public Schools athletics director Michael Beaumont.

“In an effort to work with the Arkansas Department of Health and to gather all information necessary to make the best decision regarding the safety of our students and staff, I believe that it’s best to pause for one week,” Beaumont said in Sunday’s release. “We knew sports this year would be different from any other year.

“We’ll continue to make decisions that support the safety of our students and staff, while also allowing our student athletes to compete when conditions permit.”

In addition, Northside coach Mike Falleur confirmed on Monday that the Grizzlies in all likelihood will go ahead and cancel next week’s game at home against Springdale Har-Ber, which was scheduled for Sept. 18.

Ironically, Greenwood will replace Northside with Har-Ber this Friday, with the game taking place at Greenwood. Har-Ber had been scheduled for a bye this week.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Falleur said.

“It’s just one of those things where we had a couple of kids and a coach test positive last week, and it just kind of snowballed from there.”

Falleur added there were a couple more players and coaches test positive since then.

But he was also quick to point out that all the players and coaches who had tested positive are on track to make a complete and full recovery.

“Everybody’s fine,” Falleur said. “They’re sick, they don’t feel good, but everybody’s going to be fine.

“Nobody’s taking a turn for the worse, so they’re all home and they’re all taking care of themselves. It’s just better safe than sorry, and I respect Coach Beaumont and the health people making the decisions.”

Northside has not played since Aug. 27, when the Grizzlies opened the season with a 35-7 win against Southside. The Grizzlies had a scheduled bye last week.

Should next week’s game also officially be canceled, Northside will not play again until Sept. 25, when the Grizzlies start 7A-Central action against defending 7A champion Bryant.

“We knew going forward going into football season there was a good chance this was going to happen at some point with multiple schools. … It’s just one of those things and once it gets started, and you’re in close contact with each other, there’s nothing else you can do to stop it except not being around each other for a while,” Falleur said.

“Our kids are so disappointed and so are our coaches. … It’s just a tough situation.”

Shortly after the announcement Sunday night from FSPS on Northside canceling this week’s game, Greenwood athletics director Dustin Smith sent out a tweet confirming that the Bulldogs have picked up Har-Ber this Friday.

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