PORTLAND & WESTPHALIA, Mich (WLNS) – The Pewamo-Westphalia Pirates and the Portland Red Raiders both had to forfeit their seasons after learning that members of both of their teams tested positive for COVID-19.
Portland was set to play Grand Rapids Catholic Central and Pewamo-Westphalia, the Division 7 defending state champions, had Ithaca on the schedule for the District Championship round.
Portland’s head coach John Novara and Pewamo-Westphalia’s head coach Jeremy Miller shared their perspectives on the heartbreaking decision to end their seasons.
“You can’t control things that happen to you but you can control your mindset and how you deal with it,” said Miller. “I hope that they just are proud of what happened over the course of the year and just stay positive about everything because in the end you can control that.”
“When I sent them a message the other night I just said now more than ever they have to be a family and there’s no pointing fingers or blaming,” said Novara. “The kids just have to understand that this is out of our control and what’s happened. I’m proud of them, they’ve done everything we’ve asked from them they gave us everything they had.”
With over seven thousand deaths here in Michigan the seriousness of the virus is more important than playing football. John Novara has first hand experience of how dangerous the spread of COVID-19 can become.
“My dad just got out of the hospital, he’d been in there 20 days with this COVID virus and so he’s seen some of the effects from it,” said Novara. “You’d hate for them to take that virus and past it on to their grandparents or parents and have somebody end up really sick from it. So I think this is the best thing for us even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. Just trying to keep themselves and the community safe.”
“I’m just heartbroken for the seniors because to have it end like this is really hard,” said Miller. “But on the other I look at the fact that we didn’t even know if we were gonna play football this year.”
Portland ends its season with a 7-and-1 record. The Red Raiders hadn’t lost a game since week one against DeWitt. The defending Division 7 champion Pewamo-Westphalia also close out the year with only one loss. The Pirates shutout their first four opponents and outscored the competition 337-66 through only eight games.