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Westlake forced to find new game after Highland Park cancels opener for COVID-19 reasons

Austin American-Statesman logo Austin American-Statesman 9/18/2020 Rick Cantu
Todd Dodge et al. standing in front of a crowd: Westlake coach Todd Dodge found out that Highland Park could not face his squad in the season-opener next week because of 11 confirmed coronavirus cases at the Dallas school. The Chaps will now open the season against Schertz Clemens Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Chaparral Stadium. [JOHN GUTIERREZ FOR STATESMAN] © John Gutierrez Westlake coach Todd Dodge found out that Highland Park could not face his squad in the season-opener next week because of 11 confirmed coronavirus cases at the Dallas school. The Chaps will now open the season against Schertz Clemens Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Chaparral Stadium. [JOHN GUTIERREZ FOR STATESMAN]

The highly anticipated season-opening football game between state powers Westlake and Highland Park has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 cases within the Scots program, Westlake coach Todd Dodge told the American-Statesman on Thursday.

Westlake, the defending Class 6A Division II state champions, have scheduled a game with Schertz Clemens to replace the Scots on the schedule. That game will be played Sept. 25 at Chaparral Stadium.

This is the third time that Westlake has had to reschedule its season opener. The Chaps were supposed to open the season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington with Southlake Carroll, Dodge's old team that is now coached by his son, Riley. After the pandemic forced schools in classes 5A and 6A to start the season in late September, Dodge reshuffled Westlake's schedule again to include an opener with Highland Park in Dallas.

Now, the Chaps will face Clemens, also a postseason regular that went 10-2 last season and reached the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.

"I guess the football gods didn't want us to play in Dallas," Dodge said.

Dodge got the official cancellation word from Highland Park coach Randy Allen Thursday shortly before he gassed up his Suburban to head to the Dallas area to watch the Scots scrimmage against Trinity.

Highland Park coaches learned late Wednesday that 11 players had tested positive for the coronavirus, but school officials consulted with Dallas County health officials before officially canceling the game against Westlake.

The game was set to be played at Highland Park's Highlander Stadium in Dallas. The meeting would have been the first between Westlake and the Scots, a storied Class 5A program that leads the state with 843 all-time wins and has won six state championships.

Dodge reacted quickly to the cancellation, finalizing the game with Clemens coach Jared Johnston. Clemens and Westlake have met just once before, with Westlake winning a 2018 playoff game 28-14. The two teams could meet in the playoffs this season, if Clemens qualifies as a Division II playoff team in Class 6A.

Westlake also will face Waco Midway in a nondistrict contest Oct. 2 in Waco before beginning District 26-6A play against visiting Del Valle on Oct. 9. Before the statewide reshuffling of schedules, the Chaps were originally scheduled to play Dallas Jesuit and Euless Trinity in addition to Southlake Carroll.

"It would have been a different story pre-pandemic, but you have to be ready to adjust," Dodge said.

Thomas Jones contributed to this story.

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