NO RIVALRY DUEL THIS YEAR: District executive committee's vote means Temple-Belton game won't happen
By GREG WILLE
There will be no Temple-Belton varsity football game this year for the first time since 2015, another consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The administrators from the 12-6A District Executive Committee met Tuesday, and the result of their vote means that the always highly anticipated Temple-Belton rivalry game originally scheduled for this Friday night, Nov. 13 at Temple's Wildcat Stadium will not be able to be played this season.
Because of COVID-19 cases within Belton's program, first-year head coach Brett Sniffin announced last week that his Tigers had to postpone their scheduled home game last Friday against Harker Heights.
The 12-6A DEC voted to allow each team the opportunity to reschedule one game that had been postponed because of COVID-19 factors. That included the stipulation that if a team had multiple games postponed, any rescheduled games had to occur in the order in which they originally were postponed. Because the Heights game came a week before the Temple game on Belton's schedule, the Tigers are permitted to find a makeup date for the Heights game but not the Temple game.
In a statement Temple ISD released Tuesday, its superintendent, Dr. Bobby Ott, said: “The DEC, including TISD representatives, exhausted all options in an effort to provide schools the most games without compromising safety or providing an unfair advantage for other programs. With the possibility of having more game canceled tis season as schools continue to manage COVID-19 implications, the idea of having multiple teams make up multiple games became impossible.
“Though we hoped to play the (Temple-Belton) game this year, we stand behind this decision and applaud the safety efforts of all schools in our playing district. We appreciate your patience in this matter as school districts across the state continue to make decisions to navigate these unprecedented times.”
Temple was seeking its eighth consecutive victory over Belton in the rivals' series since the Tigers last defeated the Wildcats in 2010. Temple fifth-year head coach Scott Stewart is 4-0 against Belton, including the Wildcats' 58-55, triple-overtime home win in 2018 and last year's 66-34 victory at Tiger Field.
Temple (6-1 overall, 4-0 in 12-6A) now might have to deal with two open dates in the final four weeks of the regular season as it pursues its eighth consecutive playoff appearance. The Wildcats, coming off a 39-15 home win over Killeen Ellison last Friday, are scheduled to have an open date the week of Friday, Dec. 4, the week before the Class 6A state playoffs begin.
With the matchup with Belton (2-4, 2-1) wiped away, Temple will begin preparations to battle 12-6A co-leader Killeen Shoemaker (6-0, 4-0) for the league lead next Thursday at 7 p.m. at Killeen's Leo Buckley Stadium. The Grey Wolves, ranked No. 24 in the state by Texas Football magazine, are scheduled to play Harker Heights (3-3, 1-2) at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Buckley.
The last time Temple didn't play 10 games in a regular season was 2014, when the Wildcats' Sept. 12 non-district game at Bryan was canceled because of lightning and a torrential rainstorm less than 10 minutes after it kicked off. The 2014 Wildcats went 8-1 in the regular season, then won five playoff games before losing 49-45 to top-ranked Aledo in the 5A Division I state championship game to finish with a 13-2 record.
Belton's last game was a 34-33 district loss at Bryan on Oct. 30. The Tigers' next scheduled game is Nov. 20 at home against Ellison, followed by a Nov. 27 home game against Shoemaker is what originally was Belton's regular-season finale. Belton and Harker Heights likely will seek to reschedule their postponed game for the week of Friday, Dec. 4, which was to be an open date.