The Upper Dublin High School football team has forfeited the state semifinal game set for Friday night against Cathedral Prep.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Thursday afternoon that Upper Dublin had informed the organization “that they are unable to play the [Class] 5A game versus Cathedral Prep.”

The PIAA said that Cathedral Prep, which is based in Erie, will advance to the Class 5A state final, set for Nov. 27 at HersheyPark Stadium.

Thursday afternoon’s news came as a surprise since Upper Dublin superintendent Steve Yanni said Thursday morning that the team had been cleared to return to practice.

The Cardinals had not worked out on Tuesday or Wednesday as a precautionary measure related to possible exposure to the coronavirus, Yanni said.

“We had some concerns about a close contact,” Yanni said in a phone interview. “We worked in collaboration with the [Montgomery] county health department just to make sure we were handing this situation in the best way.

“They are cleared to go today.”

The Upper Dublin High football field sat empty on Wednesday as the team was prevented from practicing for the second straight day as a precautionary measure because of COVID-19 concerns.
CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer
The Upper Dublin High football field sat empty on Wednesday as the team was prevented from practicing for the second straight day as a precautionary measure because of COVID-19 concerns.

The PIAA statement did not indicate whether Upper Dublin was forfeiting because of a positive coronavirus test or concern of possible infection during a 452-mile, round-trip bus trip to the scheduled site of the game at Hollidaysburg High in Blair County.

Another possible reason for the forfeit might have been concern that the Cardinals had been able to sufficiently prepare because of the disruption to the practice schedule this week.

Yanni did not immediately return a phone call Thursday afternoon. Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover also did not return a phone call or text message seeking comment.

Upper Dublin (6-1) won the District 1, Class 5A title with a 29-8 victory over West Chester Rustin last Friday. The Cardinals had advanced to that game after Kennett forfeited the scheduled Nov. 6 district semifinal because of COVID-19 concerns.

Cathedral Prep also has advanced in the state tournament via forfeit. The Ramblers reached the state semifinals when their scheduled opponent in the state quarterfinals, Wyoming Valley West, backed out of the game because of COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Stover said Wednesday the Cardinals were able to practice on Monday and hoped to stage a walk-through workout on Thursday, typical for teams on the day before a game.

The players, coaches, and support staff were scheduled to ride buses to Hollidaysburg and back to Upper Dublin on Friday, Stover said.

Upper Dublin’s withdrawl from the tournament leaves three Southeastern Pennsylvania football teams still alive in the state tournament. Two-time reigning state champion St. Joseph’s Prep (4-0) is scheduled to play District 1 champion Souderton (7-0) in the Class 6A state semifinals Saturday at Cardinal O’Hara, and Bishop McDevitt (4-1) is set to meet three-time reigning state champion Southern Columbia (10-0) in the Class 2A state semifinals Saturday at Selinsgrove.