End zone in sight

Jim Downey | Herald-Standard

Carmichaels quarterback Trenton Carter sprints to the end zone with teammate Cody McCoy close behind to score the Mikes’ first touchdown against West Greene at Carmichaels on Oct. 2. Carmichaels got an unexpected week off last Friday thanks to a forfeit win over Monessen, but the Mikes preferred to play a game before their showdown with visiting California at Coaches Field on Saturday night.

Carmichaels’ football team was preparing to hold a practice last Wednesday when it got word that Friday night’s game at Monessen was off.

The undefeated Mikes were awarded a 10-0 forfeit win when the Greyhounds, with a dwindling roster due to injuries, declared they could not play for safety reasons.

“We were headed for the field at about 3:10,” Carmichaels first-year coach Ron Gallagher said. “We had all of Monessen’s plays ready to show our kids what to expect from them. Then we pretty much had to throw all that right into the garbage can.”

It would seem somewhat beneficial to be awarded a win without having to play, especially with a big Tri-County South Conference showdown with unbeaten California on deck.

Gallagher didn’t see it that way.

“You could say, well, you avoid any possible injuries going into a big game,” Gallagher said. “But we would’ve rather played for sure. These kids already had only seven games because of the reduced schedule this year. Now it’s down to six.

“When you’re 4-0 — well, I guess we’re 5-0 now — but after playing four games you’re just starting to figure things out so that extra game is big. California is down a game, too. They didn’t play West Greene. It is what it is. That’s just the way this year has been going.”

The Mikes and Trojans are scheduled to play at Coaches Field in Carmichaels on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Gallagher and Carmichaels athletic director John Krajnak pondered finding a replacement game for Monessen.

“It wasn’t realistic that we could find one on such short notice,” Gallagher said. “We didn’t have an opportunity to play anyone that didn’t include some kind of outrageous travel. We looked locally to see if everybody was playing within a 30-mile radius but there was no one available.

“You could tell the kids were disappointed, especially with the late notice we got. With them I stay positive. I told them we’re going to move on from it and be better from it, just like you should do in life. At that point we just said let’s look forward and get ready for California.”

The Mikes were rolling along through the first four weeks of the season.

After opening with home wins over Jefferson-Morgan, 41-6, and Mapletown, 41-16, they went on the road and again topped the 40-point mark in a 41-16 victory at Bentworth. The Mikes returned home on Week Four and defeated West Greene, 26-7.

The Trojans have been just as impressive.

After a season-opening 27-7 win at Bentworth, California had its home game against the Pioneers postponed due to a COVID-19 case in the West Greene School District. The Trojans followed that with road wins at Mapletown, 49-18, and Avella, 55-16, before defeating visiting Jefferson-Morgan last Friday night, 65-22.

“This is our situation now,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got a big game coming up against California that probably is going to decide who’ll finish first in the conference. The forfeit is a two-fold thing. It does allow us a little extra time preparing for them.

“But there’s nothing like playing a game to give your team the opportunity to continue to evolve and get kids more experience.”

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