Friday night's scheduled football game featuring the West Tallahatchie High School Choctaws at the Coahoma County High School Red Panthers has been canceled, first-year Choctaws head coach Shane Hargett confirmed Thursday.
"We play Riverside next Friday at home," he said, alluding to the next scheduled football contest on Sept. 17.
Riverside is listed as the fourth opponent on this year's 11-game West Tally schedule, but if it makes, it would be the first that the Choctaws have played.
Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 games against Charleston and O'Bannon, respectively, were forfeited, per Mississippi High School Activities Association rules, because the West Tallahatchie School District opted to switch to virtual learning for the two weeks preceding those games after a COVID-19 spike in the school system.
Hargett called this week's cancellation a "safety issue."
He said MHSAA regulations mandate a 14-day "heat acclimatization period" for players, explaining that they should have 14 days of practices before the start of game play.
"Due to our late start and also having to go virtual, we had not met the 14 days of practice," Hargett noted.
The coach said his team has had eight days of practice through Sept. 9.
"The goal of the acclimatization period is to increase exercise heat tolerance and enhance the ability to exercise safely and effectively in warm and hot conditions," according to a section of the MHSAA guidelines on the topic.
With West Tallahatchie now officially 0-2 on the season, The Sun-Sentinel has reached out to the MHSAA for clarification on how the latest game cancellation will be ruled.