Pandemic halts football rivalry between B-U and Lewis County

Buckhannon-Upshur and Lewis County met on the football field last year at Freal “Red” Crites Memorial Stadium. The two teams were set to renew their 100-year plus rivalry Friday night but the game was canceled when Upshur County went orange this past week on the state’s COVID-19 map. The Bucs hope to return to action next Friday on the road against University.

TENNERTON – For the Buckhannon-Upshur football team, with the county going orange this past Saturday on the state’s COVID-19 protocols map, it meant no football game with the Lewis County Minutemen Friday night.

The B-U-Lewis County game was one of 18 contests this week/weekend canceled, interrupting one of the longest and storied rivalries in the state.

For Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Duane Stoeckle, he said that while it is difficult losing any football game, it was especially tough losing the Lewis County football game.

“It’s definitely tough to lose Lewis County,” said Stoeckle. “We have over a 100-year history with them and it’s a great rivalry game. It’s one we circle on the schedule every year, so it’s disappointing not to play them.”

The modern series between Buckhannon-Upshur and Lewis County started in 1966 with the Bucs holding a 38-16 lead in the rivalry.

The rivarly though actually dates all the way back to 1912 when Buckhannon High School met Weston High School for the first time.

Since Lewis County was green, the Minutemen found a replacement game with Preston, who was also green. Those two teams were slated to play two weeks ago but Preston forfeited the game because of an alleged racial incident against Robert C. Byrd the prior week. Preston had an open week as they were slated to play Bridgeport, but Harrison County also went orange like Upshur County did.

For the Bucs, with the county being orange, they were not afforded that opportunity to play Friday night or to practice this week.

With new cases continuing to pop up in Upshur County, the delay in the Bucs returning to the field could become longer than just for a week.

“The uncertainty is the hard part,” remarked Stoeckle. “We have no idea what color we will become Saturday, so we don’t know if we play our regularly scheduled opponent, a replacement team, or not at all. Coaches and teachers like to plan things out, but you really can’t plan on anything during these times.”

During a normal season, a football team usually receives a bye week playing 10 games in 11 weeks, but Stoeckle said despite no game on Friday, that this week has hardly felt like a bye week.

“It’s different from a normal bye week because we haven’t been able to practice,” stated Stoeckle. “Usually you use the bye week working on the things that need improvement. Being orange means that all we can do is lift and condition.”

Stoeckle said if there is a silver lining to no game this week, it was an opportunity for his young team to get healthy.

The Bucs were missing four starters in last Friday night’s game against John Marshall.

“We do get a chance to get healthy,” noted Stoeckle. “We had four starters out last week and we also have the middle of the season bumps and bruises. So, with no game this week it was an opportunity to get some guys healthy again.”

The Buccaneers are scheduled to play at University next Friday and then are slated to having their homecoming game with Bridgeport on Friday, Oct. 23.


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