Asked how he was doing by a reporter Sunday afternoon, Alan Short just chuckled.
Lawrence County's football coach has heard the reflexive small-talk enough for one year.
The Bulldogs were shut down by COVID-19 for the third time this season on Sunday due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus.
The contact-tracing process will make it impossible for Lawrence County to field a team Friday night in the Class 3A, District 8 championship game at Belfry, thus ending its season.
"I understand we'd have had a huge challenge this week at Belfry," Short said of the defending state champion Pirates, who beat Lawrence County 36-0 on Oct. 16. "But we earned the right to go up there and compete, and unfortunately we're not gonna be able to do that."
Short knew upon hearing Sunday morning that the player in question wasn't feeling well what direction that might lead.
"First, wanted to make sure that the kid was OK," Short said. "Obviously I anticipated what might happen, with contact tracing and all that, because unfortunately we've been through this song and dance this year."
Short called his perspective "heartbroken for our kids."
"Had some tough conversations calling and talking to all those kids today," the coach said. "We're gonna do our best to give them some type of closure in the coming weeks, but I don't know how we're gonna do it yet."
Lawrence County concluded its season with a thrilling 22-20 victory over Pike County Central on Thursday night. It was just the Bulldogs' fifth game of the season, of which they won four.
"What people don't realize is how hard playoff games are to win," Short said. "That's a huge accomplishment. Any time you can win your final game, as much as you'd like it to be at Kroger Field in the state finals, when you can win your final game hopefully a lot of times you can use that as a springboard into the offseason.
"Now unfortunately, this year we don't know what the offseason's gonna look like."
Lawrence County's regular season was bracketed by COVID-19-related shutdowns. Its volleyball team also was stripped of the opportunity to compete in the district tournament by the virus.
"Our hearts go out to all students, regardless of the setting and regardless of how each have been impacted by school-related closures," Lawrence County Schools superintendent Dr. Robbie Fletcher said Sunday in a release. "Hopefully, we can get back inside the classroom and to our extra/co-curricular events in the near future."
Belfry, which has the seventh-highest RPI among remaining Class 3A playoff teams, now has a bye this week.
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