BATAVIA — The Daily News has learned that Batavia’s upcoming football game against the Geneva Panthers will be deemed a forfeit, as the Panthers are unable to field the minimum number of players for this Friday’s contest. Injuries are the reason for Geneva’s roster woes, not COVID-19.
According to the Section V Football handbook, interschool contacts (both scrimmages and contests) in football shall be permitted only in those schools which have an adequate number of students on the squad who are physically fit, eligible and prepared for each game. In 11-man football, that number is 16 or more.
Geneva began the season with under 20 players on their varsity roster. Since Week 1, the Panthers have incurred numerous injuries, forcing them below the 16-player minimum. Geneva is without a JV team this year.
Batavia will be awarded a win due to the Panthers’ forfeiture of Friday’s game, but the Blue Devils have found an opponent to fill the empty spot on their schedule. Although it will be played as a ‘no contest’, the Devils have scheduled a matchup with the Burgard Bulldogs of Section VI this Friday night at Van Detta Stadium. It’s the only Friday night matchup for Batavia this season.
“I felt it was important to get our team an opportunity to play,” said Batavia head coach Brennan Briggs. “It’s a short season as it is, and this allows our kids to play their only Friday night game under the lights at Van Detta Stadium. Friday night lights have always been a tradition in Batavia, and this allows our players to still get the chance to experience that - some of them for the first time.”
While the Blue Devils have already improved to 3-0 before they take the field on Friday night, Briggs says his group will get plenty out of the experience playing in front of their home fans.
“We’ll use it as an opportunity to improve. You can’t replicate game reps,” said the Blue Devils head coach. “For our seniors, it’s one more chance to suit up under the lights. For our underclassmen, it’s a chance to improve their craft this season and for next season.
“We’ll game plan and treat it as a game, but we’ll also be smart with our players who are dinged up and nursing injury. It should be a chance for everyone on the roster to get quality game reps. With that said, you always play to win the game.”
The Bulldogs were set to play the Cheektowa Warriors this week, but the Warriors’ season is presently on pause.
“I’m expecting to see what certain kids can do in game-like situations,” said Burgard head coach Jason Kolb. “We’re looking to see how many steps we’ve taken during the offseason. We’ve been down the past two years, but we’re returning a lot of players. We’re kind of excited to see what we have and we want to come out injury-free. That’s the biggest thing. “
Briggs expects the Bulldogs to provide a tough challenge this week.
“They have a veteran roster and their skilled positions are extremely fast and explosive,” he said. “It’ll be an extremely good challenge for our guys. We need to play sound football and limit the big plays.”
Burgard finished last season 2-6 but returned 10 starters from last year’s team. It will be the Bulldogs’ first matchup of the season. They’re scheduled to play the Pioneer Panthers next week.
In addition to Briggs’ varsity squad adjusting on the fly this week, the Blue Devils’ JV program has also been forced to search for a new opponent due to their Week 3 matchup being impacted. After calling several players up to the varsity squad for this past week’s game, the Hornell Red Raiders were forced to cancel their JV game against Batavia scheduled for this Saturday. Instead, Batavia’s JVs will play Cheektowaga’s JVs this weekend.
It took some time for Briggs and the Batavia athletic administration to find their teams opportunities to play this week. But in the end. It comes down to one simple fact.
“It’s about the kids,” said Briggs.
The Daily News will stream Friday’s game between the Blue Devils and the Bulldogs LIVE from Van Detta Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.