A pair of perennial powers in the Rio Grande Valley’s high school football scene has had to stop all football-related activities due to health and safety concerns at two of the Valley’s biggest high schools.

Edinburg Vela and Sharyland Pioneer, two of the RGV’s most successful programs in recent years at the Class 6A and 5A level, respectively, will both temporarily halt all football-related activities due to COVID-19 concerns at each campus.

Early Monday morning, Sharyland ISD announced that due to multiple positive cases of COVID-19 being identified on the school’s campus, Sharyland Pioneer would temporarily shut down all on-campus activities including athletics and other extracurriculars effective immediately.

“In an abundance of caution, PHS on-campus instruction and activities are suspended until further notice,” the district said in a written statement on Twitter. “Beginning Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, remote learning will be in effect for all staff and students at Pioneer HS only. Please ensure your child attends classes remotely.”

Pioneer Tristan Castillo (15) finds running room after a catch against Nikki Rowe Michael Lam (50) during the 2nd quarter of a high school football game at Richard Thompson Stadium on Friday, Oct.16,2020 in Sharyland. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected]

Sharyland ISD also clarified that the COVID-19 concerns did not affect Sharyland High’s athletic programs moving forward. Sharyland Pioneer had a non-district game against the McAllen Memorial Mustangs canceled about an hour before kickoff last Thursday, however, Pioneer officials told The Monitor that the Diamondbacks’ upcoming district opener against the Roma Gladiators is still scheduled to be played Friday and that the school’s campus would reopen Tuesday.

Late Monday evening, Edinburg CISD announced that football activities would also be temporarily suspended at Edinburg Vela. The announcement comes just four days after the SaberCats played their season opener on the road against the Mission Veterans Patriots, which was mentioned by the district in a news release explaining the rationale behind the decision.

“In accordance with local, state, and UIL health and safety guidelines, the district is postponing Vela High School football practices until further notice and the scheduled football game on October 29 after reports of test-confirmed COVID-19 cases,” the Edinburg school district wrote in a statement. “The district has notified all affected students, parents, and employees. The safety of our students and staff is always the district’s top priority.”

Edinburg Vela Justin Vega (4) with a catchin front of Mission Veterans defender at Tom Landry Stadium on Thursday, Oct.22,2020 in Mission. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected]

According to multiple Edinburg CISD officials, the decision was made during an emergency board meeting scheduled early Monday afternoon.

As a result, the SaberCats’ next two District 31-6A games against the Edinburg North Cougars, which was previously scheduled for Thursday, and Edinburg High Bobcats on Nov. 6.

In a news release of its own late Monday afternoon, Mission CISD said that Mission Veterans High School had no positive COVID-19 cases at this time, but added that the Patriots’ District 16-5A DII opener against the Sharyland High Rattlers scheduled for Friday has also been canceled.

“Veterans Memorial High School currently does not have any reported cases of COVID-19. The VMHS football players are currently following appropriate quarantine precautions as part of our response to a potential exposure,” the Mission school district said in a written statement. “Mission CISD will continue to follow all appropriate CDC, UIL and local health guidelines regarding COVID-19 in an effort to safeguard all students. The VMHS game for this week is being canceled as part of our quarantine response.”

Mission Veterans football team before a game against Edinburg Vela on Thursday, Oct.22,2020 in Mission. Photo by Delcia Lopez/The Monitor | [email protected]

Vela and Mission Vets become the fifth and sixth RGV high schools that have had to shut down football activities within the past month due to COVID-19 concerns.

Raymondville ISD became the first Valley school district to make such a decision, pulling the plug on scheduled non-district games against Mission Veterans and the Hidalgo Pirates.

Soon afterward Weslaco High became the second RGV football program to have to cancel games due to a program-wide self-quarantine, which axed a pair of District 32-6A games against Harlingen High last week and Donna North this week, while Monte Alto had to cancel a Wednesday game against Hebbronville.

Monday’s announcements bring the total number of RGV high school football games canceled within the last three weeks to 11.

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Twitter: @ByAndyMcCulloch