Valley-Rochester, Winamac-North Judson games canceled
Rochester also cancels Sept. 24 game at Peru; Valley to travel to North Judson Friday
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Tippecanoe Valley-Rochester and Winamac-North Judson football games scheduled for Friday were both canceled on Wednesday.
The Valley-Rochester cancellation was “due to COVID issues within the Rochester program,” according to a tweet sent out by the Valley athletic department. Rochester acknowledged the cancellation but did not state a reason why.
The Rochester-Peru game scheduled for Sept. 24 is also off. The Zebras are next scheduled to play against Northfield at home on Oct. 1.
This marks the first time that Rochester and Valley have not played in football since 1977. Rochester and Valley became TRC rivals in 1987 and have played for the Bell every year since. Valley beat Rochester 54-0 last year at Smith-Bibler Memorial Field, Home of Death Valley Football and was hoping to extend its winning streak in the series to four.
Valley was ranked No. 9 in this week’s Class 3A poll, their first top 10 ranking of the season. The Vikings are off to their first 4-0 start in 14 years.
Earlier Wednesday, Winamac canceled its game with North Judson in what was to be a battle of top 10 teams in Class 1A.
Winamac is ranked No. 5 and North Judson is No. 7. Both teams are undefeated, and their meeting Friday was to be a rematch of last year’s sectional final that Winamac won 14-8.
The cancellation was historic. Winamac has fielded a varsity football squad every year since 1970, and they have played North Judson at least once every season. They could still meet this year in the sectional.
“We sent the entire varsity home today other than about two kids,” Winamac coach John Hendryx told RTC Wednesday afternoon.
Hendryx said there were two positive tests within the team. The rest of the players were immediately quarantined.
Hendryx said he doesn’t think the entire team has been in the same locker room together since prior to the Pioneer game, which was played Aug. 27. He said several JV players could be back by Friday, but the varsity won’t be available until next week.
This marks the third straight week that COVID has affected Winamac/
Their scheduled game against North White on Sept. 3 had to be canceled due to North White’s COVID issues, and Winamac scheduled Manchester as a substitute opponent and beat them 35-18.
Winamac’s scheduled game against LaVille last week was canceled due to contact tracing within the LaVille program.
Winamac’s next scheduled game is against Culver at Roudebush Field on Sept. 24. Hendryx said the entire varsity practiced as recently as Tuesday.
“It’s just getting very, very frustrating,” Hendryx said.
Valley quickly filled the void by scheduling North Judson. Coach Stephen Moriarty said he found out that the Rochester game was canceled at about 3:40 p.m.
Valley players went out for stretching while coaches met in the coaches offic and scrambled to find film on North Judson.
Finally, players were brought back into the locker room and were told the news. He called the cancellation “very disappointing.”
“Bell week is something very special that you’ll take with you for a long time,” Valley coach Stephen Moriarty told RTC late Wednesday. “But on the other hand, they were excited to play a good North Judson team to have an opportunity to still be playing and have a game and to play an opponent that’s 4-0.”
North Judson is led by running backs Owen Frasure and Cheyenne Allen and quarterback Aldric Harper.
“I’ve been watching film as much as I can,” Moriarty said. “They’re 4-0 and ranked. I’ve watched a little bit. They seem very aggressive. They do a good job in the air and on the ground.”