CHANGE OF PLANS: Rusk COVID-19 cases give Salado forfeit win; No. 6 Eagles to battle Bellville next
By GREG WILLE
SALADO – The sixth-ranked Salado Eagles received a bye into the area round of the Class 4A Division II state playoffs when their scheduled Friday night bi-district game against Rusk in College Station was canceled Friday morning because of Rusk's positive COVID-19 cases and related quarantines.
District 9-4A D-II champion Salado entered the postseason with a 9-1 record, while Rusk brought in a 5-5 mark as the No. 4 seed from 10-4A D-II. With Rusk unable to play in a rematch of Salado's 57-16 bi-district win in 2019, Salado (10-1) received a forfeit victory and advanced to an area-round battle with the Bellville Brahmas (9-1), who defeated Sour Lake Hardin-Jefferson 41-10 in bi-district action Thursday night.
“I just hate it,” Salado fifth-year head coach Alan Haire said Friday about his team not getting to play its first-round playoff game after having an open date last week to end the regular season. “You want them to have that reward. We'll give the guys Saturday off and try to keep their spirits high.”
Haire said his Eagles and Bellville tentatively are scheduled to meet next Saturday night at The Pfield in Pflugerville, with the exact kickoff time yet to be determined.
Salado and Bellville – coached by former Troy head coach Grady Rowe – will clash in the postseason for the third time in five years.
The Brahmas beat the Eagles 34-14 in an area-round game in 2016, Haire's first season as head coach at his alma mater. They met again in 2017 in a 4A D-II Region III semifinal, and Salado defeated Bellville 13-10 in overtime before the Eagles lost 14-0 to defending state champion West Orange-Stark one week later to finish 12-2.