NAUGATUCK — After an emotional roller-coaster of a season, the Tug Valley Panthers saw their 2020 season come to a close this past Saturday after they were eliminated from postseason play without playing a single game.
The Panthers, who finished 2020 with an unbeaten 3-0 record, were listed as a Red County on the state’s COVID-19 metrics map released this past Saturday.
Tug Valley was ranked as the No. 1 seed in Class A and was scheduled to host No. 16 Tygarts Valley in the first round at Bob Brewer Stadium on Sunday at 1:30 p.m., but the game will not be played and the Randolph County foe will move onto the quarterfinals.
For second year Tug Valley head coach Hady Ford, its the end of a frustrating season that last saw them take the field on Oct. 6 in a 38-32 win against James Monroe.
“All we’re asking for is a chance,’’ Ford told the Charleston Gazette-Mail, “and we’re not getting a chance. You get no preparation. They’re putting every handicap on you, throwing you out there and see what you can do. It’s ridiculous. This has to stop for other sports because you cannot do this through basketball or baseball or wrestling season. This can’t keep going on. They don’t realize what they’re doing to kids mentally. It’s tearing them to pieces. For lots of these kids, this is all they have.’’
The Panthers were not even permitted to practice or meet as a team the weeks leading up to the playoffs, due to the county being in the red and deemed a high risk for COVID-19 spread.
Tug Valley’s other two wins on the season came on Sept. 4 in a 22-20 win over Sherman and a 22-12 win over Class AA Logan on Oct. 2. TVHS had a total of seven games cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 map.
Coach Ford will say goodbye to eight seniors as star receiver Caleb May as well as QB Joby Sorrell, Ian Reed, Easton Davis, Shane Russell, Hunter Ooten, Mason Mullins, and Brandon Moore have all played their final down.
Losing May, who was voted First Team All-State by the Sportswriters Association after a junior season that saw him catch 76 passes for 1,230 yards and 17 receiving scores, will be a huge blow to the TVHS program as he was a top player on both sides of the ball.
May finished 2020 with 15 catches 283 yards and five receiving touchdowns. He had nine catches for 205 yards and four scores in his final game alone. Defensively, May had intercepted five passes in only three games and also led the team on total tackles with 36 and scored a TD on a fumble return in the season opening win.
Tug Valley was one of ten high school football teams saw their respective seasons end without losing a playoff game.
Six counties that were hopeful for a turn in color from red/orange to gold/yellow/green did not receive good news on Saturday, and teams in those orange counties were eliminated from the playoff brackets. The other six counties and teams that were eliminated were:
- Jackson County (Ripley)
- Marshall County (John Marshall)
- Ohio County (Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central Catholic)
- Putnam County (Buffalo, Hurricane, Poca)
- Wood County (Parkersburg, Williamstown)