Varsity Football and Soccer Affected By Positive COVID-19 Cases

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Zara Tola

Coach Michael Stewart, varsity football coach, said the football team has been following the safety measure designated by the County and by medical professionals in RSD to practice safely. These include limiting groups to 20 people, having sanitation stations in four areas of the stadium, disinfecting equipment between uses and wearing a mask when not exercising. 

By Zara Tola, Marquette High School

When Christopher Kenny, varsity boys soccer coach, learned that one of his players tested positive for COVID-19 last Wednesday Sept. 2, he immediately called off practice for the team.

Coach Kenny is unsure how the standard 14-day quarantine will affect the varsity team when they return to practice and possibly competition.

“[It’s] hard to say the long-term impact,” Kenny said. “We will get back into [practice] and re-evaluate where we are.”

The Messenger has been able to confirm of at least two positive cases on the varsity boys soccer team, but does not have official numbers. Activities Director Shane Matzen declined to release the total number of players who tested positive on the team citing privacy issues.

As of right now, Matzen said none of the MHS sports teams have been given the greenlight by St. Louis County to participate in any sort of competition. It is unknown whether teams will eventually get to compete this season.

In addition to a COVID-19 outbreak on the varsity boys soccer team, the varsity football team also had an outbreak earlier this season that led to some of their players having to sit out and quarantine.

On Friday, Aug. 28, senior Will Erpelding, varsity football player, found out he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Erpelding has not been to practice since Wednesday, Aug. 26, because he had had a slight cough.

“I was almost certain I had nothing besides allergies or a cold, but I would rather be certain and try to be as safe as possible,” Erpelding said. “I would hope the other guys would do the same.”

Erpelding said, so far, no one else on the football team has tested positive for COVID-19 that he knows of.

The football team had been split up into four smaller groups in order to practice to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Currently, Erpelding’s group is quarantining and is set to return to practice today, 14 days since they had contact with Erpelding. Erpelding said it is likely he will return later as his family may test positive.

Last season, the football team made it all the way to the District finals, the farthest they had ever gone in a season in MHS history. But this season, Erpelding said the team is at a great disadvantage due to COVID-19.

“We are behind the other teams in our district such as Joplin, who are either set to play soon or have already played,” Erpelding said. “With this setback, we are put farther back, but with that said, I have confidence in the coaching staff and my teammates to do everything we possibly can with the hand we have been dealt.”

Coach Michael Stewart, varsity football coach, said the football team has been following the safety measure designated by the County and by medical professionals in RSD to practice safely.

These include limiting groups to 20 people, having sanitation stations in four areas of the stadium, disinfecting equipment between uses and wearing a mask when not exercising.

“Our kids have done a great job of following the guidelines and making the most of the opportunities when at practice,” Stewart said. “We look forward to being able to participate in a game when the County and District decide that it is possible to do safely.”

This story was originally published on Marquette Messenger on September 9, 2020.