HORTONVILLE (WLUK) -- Early Thursday afternoon Hortonville learned its Week 1 opponent Marshfield had to cancel Friday's season opener due to COVID-19 concerns.
Left without an opponent the Polar Bears scrambled and eventually found West De Pere, which was also looking for a Week 1 opponent after Menasha had to cancel their game.
"Luck of the draw, West De Pere came calling right as we were just going to schedule a scrimmage and said too they were looking for a Week 1 (opponent) after Menasha had to suspend their program," Hortonville athletics director Sam Engelland said. "We're excited to go there (Friday) night and play a game."
Ironically, before the season was delayed due to COVID-19, Hortonville was scheduled to open up its season at West De Pere. Then the delay threw everything into a spiral with conferences and teams opting to play in the spring.
Hortonville, though, wanted to play in the fall and joined the Wisconsin Valley Conference (it was set to play in the Valley Football Association). Marshfield, though, had to punt on Week 1 and now, about a month later, the Polar Bears are playing at west De Pere.
"We were supposed to be playing up there earlier in the year anyway, so there's definitely some irony there," coach Ben Stumpf said. "We were already doing some prep work on them, looking at what they did last year. We knew they had the new head coach coming in. Short notice, you do the best you can. It's back to back to basics football."
Stumpf gathered his players after practice Thursday and told them this game is for the seniors because it's evident nothing is guaranteed during this trying time.
"The message has been we don't know what's going to happen," he said. "We control the controllables, what's under our control we're goin to handle that. We're going to prepare the best we can.
"They've handled it just unbelievably. Super-proud of these guys. This senior class has kept the group together and we have some special athletes there and they're going to be able to get out on the field and show it Friday night."
And the Polar Bears will not take it for granted.
- Hortonville's game with Marshfield has been moved to Week 6.
- Menasha also canceled its Week 2 game against Winneconne.
- Notre Dame's game Friday at Kaukauna was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. In fact, Notre Dame's Week 2 game was also canceled with Martin Luther.
- Kewaunee's game Friday at Bonduel was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns as was Kewaunee's Week 2 and 3 games.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay