LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Shawnee High School football wanted to return a favor this year.

What You Need To Know

  • Shawnee High School and Jackson County High School have postponed their matchup this Friday

  • Last season, Jackson County High came to the rescue when Shawnee needed a last-minute opponent

  • Some schools actually declined the opportunity to play Shawnee last year, citing Louisville's summer of civil unrest

  • Shawnee’s coach said they found a match up this Friday, the Lewis County Lions of Vanceburg

An unexpected bond between two high school football programs was forged in 2020 during a season cut short by COVID.

It all started last season when Shawnee High School was on the verge of having back-to-back games canceled due to players needing to quarantine. According to Shawnee Athletic Director Michael Jolly, several available teams opted out of a contest with Shawnee, citing worry over Louisville's turbulent year of protesting and civil unrest. That's when according to Jolly, Jackson County High School gave them a call. “Said, 'We’re going to step up. We’re going to do the right thing for these kids, and we’re going to play them.'”

Game on.

Shawnee High School football. (Spectrum News 1/Jonathon Gregg)

“Very special. Actually, really very special,” quarterback Sicory Brookins remembers the game and what it meant for the team to not have to sit on the sidelines two years in a row. “I actually appreciate the staff members and everything for getting us another game."

Fast forward to this season, and Shawnee was set to return the favor this Friday and make the trip to McKee. That's not happening. So here's yet another lesson for the young men. 

“You know this is more than just— This teaches us life lessons, how to have responsibility,” wide receiver Dayjian Lenoir said during practice. 

On Wednesday morning, Jolly spoke with the head coach of Jackson County High and the news wasn't good. 

“He said had a couple of tests that had to come back today before he would know for sure but he was hopeful. Well, they came back positive, and with contact tracing, they can’t play. Their whole team is quarantined," Jolly said.

Shawnee's first-year head coach Vernon Gibson was excited to continue the partnership between an urban school and a rural one. 

“It took a whole lot of people, whole lot of moving parts to get the game to happen, to come together. Two different types of teams, two different types of programs, two different types of kids to come together as one and do something positive out on this field last year," Gibson said. “This is about life. This is about our community trying to help keep our kids off the street, trying to raise our community up.”

Shawnee’s coach said they found a match up this Friday, the Lewis County Lions of Vanceburg.