Lovett vs. Westminster, one of the area’s biggest high school football games of the year, likely won’t be played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Westminster assistant coach Joe Sturniolo, speaking on behalf of head coach Gerry Romberg, said the game, billed as the Battle of Buckhead and scheduled to kick off the season Sept. 4, was postponed indefinitely because the Wildcats have delayed the start of the season by three weeks.
The postponement comes after Westminster cancelled practice for two weeks due to quarantine and policy issues after some players had to self-quarantine due to some family members contracting the virus. The Wildcats have practiced in helmets only since Aug. 24 and start working out in full pads Aug. 31.
“It is a big rivalry game and we’ve been playing it consistently since the mid-90s,” Sturniolo said of the game. “It’s a disappointment. In terms of community involvement, it’s the biggest game of the year. The fact that we’re not in their region anymore, it doesn’t matter as much, but it does matter to a lot of people. They’re our friends. We love playing those guys. You love going up against guys you know.”
As of Aug. 26, he said, the two teams don’t have a mutual open date where they can reschedule the game. But if more schools cancel football season or postpone it until the spring, as some schools in other counties have, it could be added back to the calendar.
This year’s Lovett-Westminster game was to be the 33rd in the series. Westminster, which won 31-21 last year, leads 20-12.
The Wildcats have reshuffled their schedule and will kick off at Pace Sept. 25. With Westminster no longer on its schedule, Lovett likely will kick off its season Sept. 11 at Greater Atlanta Christian.
A voicemail message left with Lions head coach Mike Muschamp seeking comment was not immediately returned.
“We’re disappointed we can’t play it,” Sturniolo said. “We hope there’s a way we can find a date. It’s all pandemic-dependent. It’s always the biggest crowd each year, whether at home or there. The fact that we were going to open the season made it a great way to kick things off.”