The Downingtown West High School football team, the reigning District 1 Class 6 champion, has been temporarily shut down after a player tested positive for the coronavirus, coach Mike Milano confirmed on Monday.
Milano said the Whippets, who advanced to the state semifinals in the largest PIAA classification last season, will not be able to open the 2020 season this Friday against archrival Downingtown East, as scheduled.
“Our kids are crushed,” Milano said. "We’ve been going four times a week since July 6 and five times as week since the beginning of September. Downingtown West vs. Downingtown West is such a great football game.”
Milano said team officials learned a player on the roster had tested positive on Thursday. The coach said the team might be able to return to practice on Oct. 13, with the goal of opening the season Oct. 17 vs. Coatesville.
In place of the annual battle against its school-district rival, Downingtown East will play Philadelphia Catholic League power La Salle this Friday at Kottmeyer Stadium at 7:30 p.m., according to Downingtown East coach Mike Matta.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Matta said of opening the season against the Explorers, who are 2-0 including a 27-23 win over Delaware Valley on Friday night.
Milano said he was unsure whether the game against Downingtown East could be rescheduled. When the Ches-Mont League announced its shortened schedule two weeks ago, the plan was for teams to play four regular-season games before the start of the District 1 tournament on the weekend of Nov. 6-7.
“Now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Milano said. “So much is up in the air.”
Downingtown West vs. Downingtown East has been one of the biggest games of the Southeastern Pennsylvania football season in recent years. When the teams met last season, a crowd of more than 8,000 spectators filled Kottmeyer Stadium on the Downingtown West campus.
Downingtown West won last year’s game, 63-35, on Oct. 4, setting the tone for the Whippets' drive to the District 1 title.
“It’s an event,” Milano said.