Sports ‘pause’ takes effect at midnight Friday
High school football and volleyball teams across Minnesota scrambled to schedule their final contests before a state-mandated “pause” on youth sports that takes effect at midnight Friday.
From Saturday through at least Dec. 18, youth and adult sports – including Minnesota State High School League activities – will be suspended as the state tries to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases. Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order, issued Wednesday, also closes places such as fitness centers and indoor recreation facilities for the same period. Bars and restaurants will be allowed to offer delivery and take-out service only.
The executive order does not apply to college and professional sports, so events such as Friday night’s University of Minnesota football game against Purdue and Sunday’s Minnesota vs. Dallas NFL game are still on.
But the high school football season must be done by Friday. Second-round playoff games were scheduled for Saturday; many of those are being moved up a day. The third and final playoff round, which was to be Nov. 27 or 28, will not take place.
Shakeups continued in the Class 6A playoffs after two teams that won first-round playoff games were forced to withdraw from the rest of the tournament. Edina, which defeated Osseo in the first round, was to play at Lakeville South in the second round, but COVID-19 forced the Hornets to cancel.
Lakeville South (7-0) now will play St. Michael-Albertville (6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Lakeville South High School, with the winner being declared a section champion. STMA defeated Eastview in a first-round game and was to play Minnetonka in the second round, but Minnetonka was forced to drop out after defeating Woodbury on Tuesday.
Lakeville South beat Cretin-Derham Hall 59-27 in its first-round game Tuesday.
Seven Class 6A games are scheduled for Thursday and Friday nights. The matchups:
• Wayzata at Blaine, 6 p.m. Thursday.
• St. Michael-Albertville at Lakeville South, 7 p.m. Friday.
• Totino-Grace at Farmington, 6 p.m. Friday.
• Rosemount at East Ridge, 6 p.m. Friday.
• Champlin Park at Shakopee, 5 p.m. Friday.
• Prior Lake at Eden Prairie, 6 p.m. Friday.
• Centennial at Stillwater, 6 p.m. Friday.
Apple Valley High School announced Thursday its football team would be unable to play its Class 5A, Section 3 semifinal game Friday against Henry Sibley. The top two seeds among the three remaining available to play, St. Thomas Academy and Henry Sibley, will meet at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Thomas Academy in what will now be a section championship game. Odd team out is Hastings, which won a first-round game over Bloomington Kennedy but was the lowest seed of the three remaining.
The volleyball season also must be wrapped up by Friday night, meaning South Suburban Conference teams won’t complete their regular-season schedules let alone have any playoff matches.
South Suburban Conference volleyball matches schedule for Thursday night are Burnsville at Apple Valley, Eagan at Lakeville North, Eastview at Rosemount and Prior Lake at Shakopee. All start at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Shakopee plays at Eagan and Eastview will play at Bloomington Jefferson in 7 p.m. matches.
The sports pause also affects the winter high school season. Dance team practice started Nov. 9 but will have to be suspended beginning Saturday. Practices for other winter sports were to begin over the next several weeks, but now the earliest any of those teams could start is Dec. 19. Coaches will be allowed to meet with athletes by video conference but not in person, and athletes will be required to train on their own.