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Season canceled for Albert Lea Grizzlies

After multiple board meetings over the past two months, the Southern Plains Football League made the decision to cancel its 2020 season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league’s board has held multiple discussions trying to come up with ways the league could continue with the season in compliance with federal, state and local guidelines. 

Originally, the league was slated to start May 2 and was set to feature eight regular season games and three playoff rounds. Adjustments were made so that the games would start June 6 and would feature five regular season games and a two-round playoff. However, after a meeting on Friday, the league decided to cancel the 2020 season in the interest of the league, coaches, players, staff, fans and communities. 

“This was a very hard decision to make but teams need time to raise funds to cover the season’s expenses and the players need the practice time to get into shape in all efforts to reduce the risk of injuries,” league commissioner Jay Doyscher said in a statement.

Albert Lea Grizzlies head coach Stephen Piper said it was tough to have to cancel the season, but he expected this decision was coming eventually. 

Having the 2020 season canceled is a pretty bitter pill to swallow,” Piper said. “However, since just about every other spring athletic league of any sort has either canceled or postponed their season, I was sort of expecting it. As a board member of the SPFL, it was a tough call to make. We have teams in three states, which are all on different timetables for reopening. That makes it pretty tough to come up with a schedule that would work for all the teams.”

Piper said he is still holding out hope that the Grizzlies will get the opportunity to play in a couple exhibition games at some point in the fall. 

According to Piper, though the Grizzlies players understand the dynamics of the pandemic and the decision, they want to be able to get out there and feel the “pop of the pads.” 

The statement from the league thanked all the players, coaches, staff, sponsors and fans for being understanding of the decision and said players will be back on the field for the 2021 season. 

Piper said pending the league finding a date that works, the league plans on hosting its annual Pigskin Classic at U.S. Bank Stadium in the fall. 

 

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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