MURFREESBORO – Oakland High’s football schedule for this season just got another challenge.
That challenge? Finding a 10th game.
Oakland first-year football coach Kevin Creasy told The Daily News Journal Tuesday that he found out recently that Pulaski Academy, Arkansas, had replaced the Patriots with Wynne, Arkansas, for its Week 4 game Sept. 11. Oakland was scheduled to travel to Pulaski Academy in Little Rock that day.
Pulaski Academy was then scheduled to play Oakland in Murfreesboro in 2016.
That leaves Oakland scrambling to fill its regular-season schedule less than three weeks from when practice in pads begins.
“It truly was a misunderstanding by both teams,” Creasy said. “Maybe we can work something out next year.”
However, Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley said there was no misunderstanding. He said he was told by Oakland athletic director Brad Cowan that the game was not going to be played.
“I was told to go find another game,” Kelley said. “We didn’t drop anybody. We got dropped.”
Creasy replaced former coach Thomas McDaniel in March after McDaniel resigned and took the same position at Christian Brothers, a private school in Memphis, a month earlier.
Creasy said he’s been told that a conversation did take place prior to him being hired that if Pulaski Academy could find a new opponent, Oakland would be fine with it as long as they were notified. However, Creasy said the school agreed to play Pulaski if the Arkansas team couldn’t find an opponent.
“The conversation that we believe took place was, ‘Let us know if you find can find another game, but if you don’t we will play you,'” Creasy said.
“At the end of the day, we believed that we were still playing them because they never called us back.”
Pulaski Academy is the defending Class 5A Arkansas champion, beating Wynne in the championship game.
Kelly said the team has not steered away from playing out of state teams, playing in California, Florida and Texas.
Oakland finished 12-2 this past season, losing to Maryville in a Class 6A state semifinal. Oakland is guaranteed a playoff berth under the new TSSAA Super 6 playoff system that gurantees all 32 teams in Class 6A a spot in the postseason.
Creasy said he has limited options to fill the Sept. 11 game, but has began a search to fill its 10th game. Ironically, Pulaski Academy was the 10th game scheduled by McDaniel prior to his resignation.
“Unfortunately, now we have to find another game,” Creasy said. “It’s very late to find out, which is frustrating.”
This marks the second time in two years that a Murfreesboro football team has been forced to scramble due to out-of-state programs finding other games.
Bowling Green, Kentucky, backed out of coming to Murfreesboro to play Blackman for the 2014 season, which led to the Blaze scheduling Hoover, Alabama, this past year.
Kelley said he believes that Creasy didn’t know the game was canceled.
“He wasn’t in on the conversation,” Kelley said. “But I was told to go find another game.”
Oakland could also fill the game with one during fall break Oct. 9. The Patriots have played during that break the past four years.
However, gate receipts are generally down that week due to school being out that week and families vacationing.
“We know how terrible it can be to have to play during your bye week during fall break,” Creasy said.
Creasy said he’s started a national search to find a 10th game. However, he’s not too optimistic that one will be found this close to the season.
“It’s going to be a challenge to find a 10th game now,” Creasy said.
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.