TheOakland football team is scrambling to fill its regular-season schedule less than three weeks from when practice in pads begins.
First-year football coach Kevin Creasy said Tuesday that he found out recently that Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., had replaced the Patriots with Wynne, Ark., for its Week 4 game.
“It truly was a misunderstanding by both teams,” Creasy said.
However, Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley said there was no misunderstanding. He said he was told by Oakland athletics 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 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 it was 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.”
Former Oakland coach Thomas McDaniel resigned in February to take the same position at Christian Brothers in Memphis. Creasy was hired in March.
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.”
Creasy said he has limited options to fill the Sept. 11 game but has started a search.
Oakland also could 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 with school being out 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.
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 guarantees all 32 teams in Class 6A a spot in the postseason.