Adams Central football coach Michael Mosser said he worries every time he gets a text message from his athletic director or an email from his school. Could this be bad news about COVID-19? Could this be end of his team's season?
“You live with that possibility that today, or tomorrow, we might not be going to play the game. And that looms in the darkness, it really eats away at you,” Mosser said. “And not only us as coaches, it eats away at our kids as well.”
Adams Central canceled last week's game as a precautionary measure with a large portion of the student body in quarantine but have resumed in-person practices. The Flying Jets (5-2), ranked No. 6 in Class A, should be able to conclude the regular season against Woodlan today and play Fremont in sectionals next week.
As of Thursday afternoon, the only teams that had been forced to withdraw from the fall sports state tournaments have been Lafayette-area volleyball teams and the Fountain Central cross country teams. But with COVID-19 cases on the rise in Indiana, coaches are worried that their players or even entire teams could be kicked to the sidelines before the season is over.
Heritage (2-5) was forced into quarantine last week when a player tested positive, but the two-week quarantine period for the rest of the team will conclude Tuesday, giving the Patriots just enough time to return to practice ahead of a sectional opener against Norwell on Oct. 24.
But if any team learns that its program had contact with an infected person late last week or any time after that, the season will almost certainly be over.
For now, Heritage is practicing over Zoom, with players running through short workouts together and then breaking into their position groups for instruction over video. Still, coach Casey Kolkman stressed that missing the final two regular season games was a hit for a Heritage team, even if a conference title wasn't on the line. They players are missing Homecoming, Senior Night, two of their four home games and two chances to get wins over beatable opponents.
“It's tough news for the boys, because they keep coming back,” said Kolkman, noting that none of the 57 players on the roster have quit. “It's so easy to quit things, especially in a program that's new. They've hung in there and they've stuck around, and then this happens.
“But the redeeming thing is, we did Monday virtual practice, 57 kids in attendance. All on Zoom. We had 70 people on a Zoom practice, seniors are leading the warm-ups. We're trying to do things the best we can.”
While Heritage is quarantined, other coaches, including Eastside's Todd Mason, are trying to keep teams as cordoned-off as possible while still being in the school building. The Class 2A No. 6 Blazers (7-1) have all the ingredients for a long run – if they can stay healthy.
“We have quarantined our football team during the day from lunch. We eat lunch together now,” Mason said. “I asked our teachers to make sure we separate football players from non-football players in the classroom. We're making sure we wear masks, we're washing hands. We're doing all those things to make sure COVID can't strike. Because if it strikes now, we're done.”
(All at 7 p.m.)
Bishop Luers at Snider
Carroll at Wayne
Concordia at North Side
Homestead at South Side
Northrop at Bishop Dwenger
Bellmont at East Noble
Columbia City at Norwell
DeKalb at Leo
New Haven at Huntington North
Adams Central at Woodlan
Lakeland at Bluffton
Central Noble at Garrett
Wes-Del at Fremont
West Noble at Prairie Heights
Eastside at Angola
Fairfield at Churubusco
Concord at Warsaw
Goshen at Wawasee
Whitko at Wabash