Effingham’s Tristin Duncan hauls in a pass over the outstretched arms of Charleston’s Logan Beals for a 35-yard touchdown Friday evening at Klosterman Field.

The football contest that was supposed to be held Friday between the Effingham Flaming Hearts and the Taylorville Tornadoes has been canceled due to COVID-19 issues.

The Tornadoes experienced cases of COVID-19 starting last week, which led to the cancelation of their contest last week against Mt. Zion.

“Saturday we had an inkling that we might be affected because they had to cancel their game with Mt. Zion,” said Effingham head coach Brett Hefner. “We didn’t hear anything Sunday, so we thought we were good, but then Monday found out that they would not be able to play. That was obviously frustrating.

“You immediately go to try and find out if there’s somebody close, within your COVID region or close enough, that’s looking for a game. But a bulk of those people that needed games were in the northern part of the state and it just didn’t work out and didn’t fit.”

Needless to say, players and coaches were upset to hear they would lose one of just three home games on their schedule; particularly against a rival like Taylorville, especially coming off of a 28-0 win over Mattoon last Friday night.

“They actually found out about it before we even got together through social media,” Hefner said. “They had a pretty good idea of what was going on before we even met. But they were certainly frustrated and disappointed to lose the chance to play a game in a shortened season. Another reason is because Taylorville is normally pretty good and has been a big rivalry for us and we enjoy playing that game.

“Anytime you lose a home game, that’s frustrating. There was a number of parts that were frustrating for them and I understand it. We went through and had a normal week of practice as we could; trying to stay ready in case we did find an opponent. If not, use it to get healthy and clean some things up for next week’s showdown with Mt. Zion.”

As a result, the Flaming Hearts will have just one more home game; next Friday when they host the Mt. Zion Braves.

Despite both teams having a slightly different look this year, revenge will surely be on the minds of the Flaming Hearts, as the contest at Mt. Zion was the only blemish on Effingham’s otherwise perfect regular-season resume last season. They will now have an extra week’s preparation for arguably the team’s biggest contest of the year.

“It’s tough finding that balance because you’re winning and want to keep building on that momentum,” Hefner said. “So you don’t want to lost that. But you also don’t want to lose someone to injury or get banged up. It’s giving us a chance to get healthy, but I worry about losing the rhythm of staying in routine and playing a game.

“That will be a concern going forward. That’s why at practice [Friday] we’re going to do some ones versus ones stuff just to try and keep it like a Friday, stay off the ground and stay healthy and try to do some game-type stuff just to keep the intensity of a Friday up.”

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