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Contact tracing hit Ouachita Parish hard Wednesday afternoon as both Wossman and West Ouachita's football teams canceled Friday night contests due to COVID-19. 

To add insult to injury, West Ouachita's contest against West Monroe one week later was also canceled. 

"It's always difficult because No. 1 you want your kids to play," West Ouachita head coach Matt Middleton said. "You prep and work extremely hard to put a team together, and then it's financial. One thing I've learned through going through this is we've been blessed for the most part, up to this point. I hate we have to deal with these things and lose multiple kids to contact tracing. I hate it. But I respect the people that are in charge. They have a job to do." 

Wossman was slated to play against defending Class 4A State Champion Edna Karr, while West Ouachita was going to host District 2-5A rival Ouachita for the home district opener Friday night. 

Ouachita found a swift replacement in Haughton and will travel to play the Buccaneers Friday. 

"We were already on the road, and Haughton had already sold out so we said, 'Let's go play football,'" Ouachita head coach Jeff Fitzgerald said. "It's a huge challenge for us. Haughton was a semifinalist last year. So we just add them to the gauntlet." 

There is familiarity between Haughton and Ouachita, as the Buccaneers defeated the Lions, 28-7, in the opening round of last year's playoffs before making their deep run in Class 5A. Haughton is 2-1 in 2020 with wins against Woodlawn-Shreve and Benton. 

West Ouachita athletic director Mitch Thomas said the Chiefs would ultimately be losing two home gates now, since West Ouachita was set to host Ouachita before splitting a gate at West Monroe. 

Middleton said it hurts to pull out of those games for a list of reasons, including what it would have meant for West Ouachita's power points. 

"That's two good football teams that were going to get you wins and help you," Middleton said. "It's a win-win because you're playing two good football teams, along with the financial aspect. It hurts. It makes it a tougher pill to swallow." 

Wossman head coach Maurice Pollard said the Wildcats pulled out of their game against Edna Karr on Friday for "precautionary reasons." 

"Just based off of the trip and heading down to that New Orleans area, we just thought it wouldn't be smart right before district," Pollard said. "I've already talked to Coach (Lee) Doty, and our game against Sterlington is still on." 

The Panthers will make the short trip to play the Wildcats on Oct. 30. 

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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