The Ada High football team will miss this week’s game with archrival McAlester and next week’s Homecoming contest with Durant due to COVID-19 exposure.

The Cougars played Ardmore in Week 1 and a member of the Tigers football squad tested positive following the game.

“One of our young men has tested positive and the health department has quarantined all players, trainers and coaches for 14 days from Friday, Sept. 4,” said Ardmore head coach Josh Newby. “We will reconvene on Saturday, Sept. 19.”

State health department officials and experts from the state epidemiologist office advised Ada athletics personnel to quarantine Cougar players who had contact with the Tiger athlete with the positive test during last week’s contest.

Enough of Ada’s players were involved in the quarantine group to force the Cougars’ game with McAlester and next week’s Homecoming contest with Durant to be canceled. Ada officials decided the safest thing to do was quarantine the entire AHS football team for 14 days retroactive to Friday, Sept. 4

“Our kids are fine. We’re OK,” Harwell stressed.

The Cougars won’t return to action until hosting Tecumseh in a District 4A-2 contest on Sept. 25.

Ardmore City Schools issued a statement on its Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon saying the quarantine decision was made after consulting with the Carter County Health Department and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

McAlester Athletic Director John Homer said the cancellation was difficult news to address for both schools.

“It’s hard,” Homer told the McAlester News-Capital. “I just told (McAlester coach Forrest) Mazey, and he had to go address the team. It’s just really hard.”

MPS officials released a statement about the cancellation on Wednesday afternoon.

“McAlester Public Schools has just been notified by Ada Public Schools that due to COVID-19 they will be unable to travel to McAlester for the football game that was scheduled for this upcoming Friday night, September 11th,” the statement said. “We are currently looking for another team to possibly play on Friday night.”

MPS was also set to presell 350 additional tickets so more fans could attend the annual rivalry game. Homer said fans had begun lining up a full two hours before the announced pre-sale time, but he had to turn them away after receiving the news.

“It’s not fun,” Homer said. “But we had to apologize and send them home.”

This week’s cancellation marks the second week in a row for McAlester, following last week’s contest against Sallisaw also being canceled. Although the coronavirus impacts have not stemmed from the Buffs, Homer said the fluidity at which things can change makes an impact on everyone involved.

“It’s difficult,” he said. “You just try to do the best you can.”

Editor’s Note: Derek Hatridge, sports editor for the McAlester News-Capital, contributed to this report.

Contact Jeff Cali by email at

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

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