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Virus blocks team dream
Evan Knowles
Effingham County’s Evan Knowles (31) jockeys for position against South Effingham’s Jacob Curtis (9) during a March game in Guyton. The Rebels prevailed 11-0. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Kenneth Nix
Rebels head coach Kenneth Nix patrols the sideline in a game last month against South Effingham in Guyton. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County boys lacrosse team didn’t get to experience much of its debut season as a GHSA-sanctioned squad. The Rebels were looking forward to competing for a state championship but will have to wait until next season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s been tough,” Rebels head coach Kenneth Nix said. “I can offer some words of encouragement and give them some ideas for how they can get better and practice at home and work on their skills.”

April looked to be an action-packed month for the Rebels, who were forced to reschedule a couple games due to poor field conditions.

“We had a lot of room in April in our schedule so it wasn’t a problem to move games,” Nix said.

Nix was feeling good about his team’s standing when Georgia schools were ordered closed March 18.

“Our goal this year was to try to make it into the playoffs,” said Nix. “We were in a decent spot to be able to do that.”

But as COVID-19 continued to spread, it became evident the contagiousness of the disease would put too many people in harm’s way. 

The Rebels were 3-2 before spring sports were canceled, giving Nix’s large core of seniors just five games of competition in their final year of eligibility. The group includes James Jolin, Ben Brumbeloe, Zachary Russell, Stephen Monaco, Tristan Hanafin, Dawson Stone, Jacob Anderson, Mason Nease and Tyler Ward.

Nix is hopeful he will be able to reunite with his team and honor the seniors who have contributed to the program. Lacrosse was a club sport at Effingham County for several seasons until this season.

“I think we are hopeful we might be able to do something this summer just to get together to get the kids back together if the laws allow and have some kind of banquet or something like that,” Nix said. “I think it’s much more important this year that we recognize, especially those seniors that — for a lot of them — this was their last chance to play. They aren’t going to play in an organized way again.

“I am trying to figure out a way to make it special for them. At least we were able to get some games in. I wish the seniors the best going forward.”