WATSONVILLE—The high school football season began this week with a pair of games that took place in the tri-county area on Thursday night.
St. Francis High will have to wait at least a few more days to play its season opener after the school was notified by the Santa Cruz County Public Health Office that some student-athletes may have been exposed to football players from another school who recently tested positive for Covid-19.
St. Francis Athletic director Adam Hazel issued a press release Friday saying that their game at King City High has been rescheduled for Monday at 7pm. He said in a text message that due to all the health privacy laws they can’t comment any further on the situation.
“We are grateful to the administration at King City High School for their understanding and cooperation,” he said.
Hazel said in the press release that the school was told by the county’s public health office on Thursday about the possible exposure. They competed in the Apple City Jamboree on Aug. 20 against Watsonville High, Pajaro Valley High and Monte Vista Christian School.
Hazel said a Covid-19 Response Team came to the school Friday morning to test all of the junior varsity and varsity football players along with athletic trainers. He also said that MVC’s JV football players were tested and none of the student-athletes from either school have tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the Monterey Herald, King City coach Mac Villanueva learned of St. Francis’ situation 30 minutes before Thursday’s practice when the game was originally canceled. That evening, St. Francis coach John Ausman told Villanueva that the county health department gave him permission to play with vaccinated players only.
“Coach Ausman said we could come down, but he didn’t feel it would be beneficial for either program,” Villanueva told the Herald. “I told him I appreciate his concerns. Hopefully, we’ll play Monday.”
If St. Francis and King City get the game in, it will be a short turnaround for both teams. The Sharks play against Watsonville on Sept. 4 at 2pm and the Mustangs will visit Greenfield on Sept. 3 at 7:30pm.
MVC varsity head coach Jeremiah “J.B.” Williams said the JV team had some issues related to Covid-19 testing prior to Thursday’s game against North Monterey County. As a result, the Mustangs had just 13 players suit up.
“It was the most distracting pre-game I think I’ve ever had,” he said.
Tomorrow’s football game between San Lorenzo Valley and George Washington will also not be played. The Cougars do not have enough players to suit up due to Covid-19 quarantine protocols, according to SLVUSD Superintendent Chris Schiermeyer.
“Part of the modified quarantine is that students cannot participate in extracurricular activity,” he said.
Schiermeyer said he’s not sure if the game is officially canceled.
If a student is vaccinated and they are asymptomatic then they can continue with extracurricular activities, Schiermeyer said. Those unvaccinated or symptomatic have to wait the full 10-day quarantine period.
Schiermeyer said as soon as they’re aware that a student of a classroom is exposed that day, emails are sent to family members indicating that they were in close contact and exposed to a student tested positive for Covid-19.
“That starts their quarantine time and that includes any extracurricular,” Schiermeyer said.
Schiermeyer said if it happens to be a football player, or more than one, because they happen to be in a class with a student who was exposed to Covid-19, then that can result in the team making the decision if they have enough players to compete in the game.
“Just one case of one student can cause whoever they’re in contact with to do that,” he said. “High school students go through six classes, they can have the impact of almost 180 students for one student.”
Week 1 football schedule
At MVC 35, North Monterey County 0
Pajaro Valley at Watsonville, 7pm
Scotts Valley at Soquel, 7:30pm
Seaside at Santa Cruz, 7:30pm
Mills at Aptos, 7:30pm
St. Francis at King City, postponed
George Washington (S.F.) at SLV, postponed
Harbor at Lynbrook, 6 p.m.