Safford looking for new opponent after Willcox cancels season-opener due to COVID-19

Gila Herald File Photo: Dylan Dorrell (30) gets ready to receive the handoff in last year’s game against Sabino. Safford is looking for a new season-opener opponent after Willcox canceled its scheduled game due to COVID-19 precautions.

By Jon Johnson

WILLCOX – The highly-anticipated season-opener between Safford and Willcox has been canceled after Willcox bowed out due to a possible COVID-19 exposure at the high school.

The game would have matched former Safford now Willcox head coach Eric Hjalmarson against former EAC now Safford head coach John O’Mera. Hjalmarson led Safford to its first regional title in 19 years last season as the team went unbeaten in region play.

Willcox Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Davis reportedly informed students and staff at Willcox High School may have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 on or around Monday.

With that news, the Cochise County Health Department recommended the school postpone football practice and competition until Sept. 30. The game against Safford was scheduled for Oct. 2, but the decision was made not to go through with that game due to lack of practice leading up to it and Willcox now has its opening game scheduled for the following week, Oct. 9, versus Valley Lutheran.

Calls to superintendent Davis and Cochise County Health and Social Services for comment were not immediately returned.

Safford Athletic Director Toni Corona told the Gila Herald that as of Thursday morning she had immediately put out “feelers” and that she will work to get a game for the Oct. 2 date even if it is scheduled at the last minute.

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