By: Betty Lee
From planning for a playoff game to then being told they couldn’t attend, the CCHS Panthers had a whirlwind weekend. The Clay County Panthers were to take on the Bluefield Beavers this past weekend but with COVID at an all time high in the county, the BOE and County Health Department made an executive decision to not let the football team play in the playoff games, only to decide that there would be a way the team could play.
In light of being told they would not be attending, Coach Heath Cliver said, “Our boys have worked really hard putting in the hours and looking forward to the playoffs. It is frustrating that there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. This pandemic has altered our lives in the worst way and I’m not sure we’ll ever be back to where were in education and school sports.”
This 2020 team is the 10th team in Clay County High School history to make it to the playoffs, but the first team to not be able to attend to show the state what talent Clay County has.
Senior Colton Pritt, #22, said he is reminded of his freshman year when the devastating flood of 2016 swept through his town and he and his family lost their home and lived in the feed store for five months, proving that this town can overcome whatever is thrown at them.
Sophomore Carlie Friend, #72, said, “I am glad that I got the experience and the ability to play on a team with lots of great guys. I just wish we could have finished the season how we wanted to. I will forever have a bond and great friendships with all my teammates. It is something I won’t forget and COVID can’t take that away from me or us.”
Junior Kalep Friend, #56, added, “I’m grateful that we got to have a season and play. I’m just devastated that we worked so hard to make it to the playoffs only to be told the night before that we couldn’t go.”
The community organized a parade in honor of the team’s hard work and dedication. At 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, blue and gold could be seen stretching down both sides of the town as players made their way to the field house to return their gear. Community members, parents, and businesses lined the streets to show their support for the 2020 Panthers.
It was only after the parade that the team got word that they were in fact going to be attending the playoffs. They took on the Bluefield Beavers and fell short, walking away knowing at least they got the chance to attend and give it their best.