REED CITY – Reed City’s football team has won its fourth district title in the past five seasons.

But district title No. 4 didn’t exactly come the way the Coyotes would have preferred.

The stage was set on Friday night at Reed City for two 8-0 teams to take on each other for a Division 5 district title.

Kingsley vs. Reed City.

The Coyotes were hoping for revenge against a team which ousted Reed City from the district in 2019 with a 48-36 victory.

But Kingsley announced on Friday it was forfeiting the game for COVID related reasons.

Here’s the statement issued from Kingsley athletic director Mitch Miggenburg:

“Unfortunately, we have had multiple cases of Covid-19 among our coaching staff and players. Without adequate time for thorough contact tracing, and another coach not feeling well this morning, we felt it was in the best interest of everyone involved to cancel. This has been extremely devastating and unfortunate for our kids, our coaches and our community.”

Reed City athletic director Kris Griffin reacted to the news:

“It is our understanding that it was both a coach and players,” she said. “We were made aware of this (Thursday) afternoon and were waiting for them to get back with us regarding the situation. We did reach out to the MHSAA for guidance and they were extremely supportive and helpful to us. The athletic director from Kingsley was very transparent.

“I truly feel badly for their team, as I know this is devastating for them. It could be any of our teams right now that could have to do the exact same thing.”

This means Reed City wins the district title and would host Freeland play in the regional title game this Friday. But the MHSAA suspended the season on Sunday and is hoping to resume it in December.

Reed City is now 9-0. Coach Scott Shankel said he gave his team Friday off and practices will resume on Monday.

“It’s not what we wanted,” Shankel said of the forfeit. “I wanted the kids to play. Kingsley is a great program with a great coaching staff. I feel terrible for them having to forfeit. That’s the nature of the beast this year. I don’t what know what to say other than we would have preferred to have played.”

The Coyotes were ready for an intense game.

We knew the game would be very tough,” Shankel said. “They are a very tough team. They’re returning a lot of kids from last year’s team, especially up front. Their offensive line was unbelievable last year how they got off the ball. They were doing the same thing. The know how to run the T and we know how to run it too. We knew it’s a very dangerous offense if you do it right.

“Their defense was one where they flew to the ball and was very good. It would have been one of those games where it could have come down to the wire. It would have been a slugfest, that’s for sure.”

Shankel and other coaches have continually stressed to their players to be careful and stay within the bubble of their family and normal friends.

“You never know,” Shankel said. “You just want kids to be safe and keep them in their bubble as much as possible. We do health screenings with our kids every day. We take their temperatures before practice. Then we ask them the questions on symptoms. We’ve done that every day since we started in the summer.

“Over the course of this playoff run, you’ve seen some great quality teams come down with it. I feel for them. It’s not the way you want to end your season. That’s the time we’re in right now.”