CANTON, Mo. -- When Pat Atwell saw who the incoming call was from, a moment of trepidation hit.
The Culver-Stockton College athletic director had good reason to worry.
The call came from Missouri Valley College athletic director Tom Fifer with the sobering news the Vikings' football program had confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 and Saturday's season opener in Marshall, Mo., would have to be postponed.
So a little more than 24 hours prior to kickoff, while the Wildcats were prepping their travel gear, Atwell had to tell them they wouldn't play for another week.
"That was a hard message to deliver," Atwell said.
It was equally difficult to hear.
"They're pretty disappointed," C-SC coach Tom Sallay said of his players. "They know they can't control it. They've done everything they've needed to do to get to this point. That's the hardest thing about this year. You don't want things taken away from them.
"You want them to get the opportunity to do the things they want to do. When it gets taken away, it bothers you."
The timing of the positive test results left no leeway for the teams to adjust. As Atwell noted, if it happens on a Tuesday, for example, there's time to contain the spread and get ahead of it where you might be able to play by Saturday.
There was no chance of getting in front of this one.
The game has been rescheduled for October 11, and it turns next week's matchup with Evangel into the season opener as well as the home opener. The Wildcats and Crusaders are scheduled to kick off at noon September 19 at Ellison Poulton Stadium.
"You have to assume you're going to play and get ready to go," Sallay said. "I pulled our seniors aside and said the hardest thing now is coming out next week and preparing like we're going to play a game and not doing it halfway.
"We just have to line up, practice like we're going to play and see what happens."