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Flu postpones Bear River-Colfax football game until Monday

Nearly half of the Bear River squad absent from school Friday
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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One of the foothills' most heated high school football rivalries was put on hold until Monday because of flu sweeping through the Bear River football team. The Bear River-Colfax football game slated for Friday has been postponed until Monday because of an outbreak of the flu that hit 14 Bear River varsity players. Duwaine Ganskie, Bear River athletic director, said Friday that the game will now start at 7 p.m. Monday at Bear River High School’s Dave Ramsey Field. “We reached the critical point where we didn’t feel we could safely field a football team, both with the numbers of healthy bodies we had left and the fact that it’s getting worse,” Ganskie said. “We had more kids out today.” The junior varsity game between the two schools will also now be played Monday, with game time scheduled for 5 p.m. Fourteen of the Bear River varsity's 32 players did not attend school Friday because of flu-like symptoms. Ganskie said he couldn't say whether they were related to the H1N1 virus. “We don’t know if it’s anything other than regular flu,” Ganskie said. “It’s hitting a lot of people.” Ganskie worked with Colfax Athletic Director Rob Hitchcock to reschedule a game that could have been forfeited if hadn’t been played by Tuesday because of California Interscholastic Federation rules on time between games and scheduling conflicts. Colfax also did some juggling with its next home game against Whitney - initially moving it up a day from Oct. 9 and then shifting back to the original date. The game is now on for Friday. “A lot of praise goes out to them for being understanding,” Ganskie said. Hitchcock said the decision to postpone the game also involved principals from both schools. Both athletic directors and principals agreed with the ultimate decision to delay the game, he said. The schools also found support from the Pioneer Valley League commissioner, he said. “Our team has had some illness but not beyond the normal,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve worked our way through it and it’s worked its way through us. But things could change in a heartbeat and we could be the ones next Friday in the same boat.” The school expected up to 3,000 spectators at the Friday game between teams from nearby schools in neighboring counties that have built up a heated rivalry over two decades. Ganskie said the flu spread quickly among varsity players while the junior varsity squad remained relatively healthy. A couple of varsity players were out with the flu Tuesday and then the number jumped to 11 Thursday. An attendance check Friday showed 14 Bruin team members out, he said. “That took us down to 18 with some other kids not looking too good,” Ganskie said. Bear River set a precedent with the postponement. “We’ve never had to do this before,” Ganskie said. “This is a first and, unfortunately, not something you want to experience. But our goal is keeping everybody healthy and fielding teams that won’t continue to pass it along.” The Bear River student body as a whole isn’t suffering to the same degree as the football team, Ganskie said. “We’re trying to isolate it by telling kids to stay home,” Ganskie said. The move to Monday is more than just getting two teams to play on a field on a different day. “We’re trying to be positive,” Ganskie said. “It’s a huge production to put on football game and it’s no small matter to move this even a couple of days. We have officials, security, announcers, scoreboard operators, ambulance people – they all have to be contacted. And hopefully they can find room on their calendars.”