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Sean Walker,

Kearns becomes 3rd team out of football playoffs as high school moves online for COVID-19 cases

By Sean Walker, | Updated - Oct. 22, 2020 at 6:53 p.m. | Posted - Oct. 22, 2020 at 4:08 p.m.

KEARNS — Another Utah high school football is pulling out of the state playoffs due to COVID-19.

Kearns High School received a third positive test result for the novel coronavirus from the football team Thursday, head coach Matt Rickards told the Deseret News, meaning the Cougars will shut down for a 14-day quarantine period.

The Cougars, who finished the regular season with an 8-1 record and as co-champions of Region 2, were scheduled to face the winner of Friday night's first-round game between East and Clearfield.

Kearns, which clinched the No. 5 seed, had a bye until the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

The third test came back the day that one player was scheduled to return from quarantine, Rickards told the Deseret News. The Cougars, who were ranked among the top teams in Class 5A for most of the season, were careful to follow all health and safety protocols to continue their season, the coach added.

"We are always masked," Rickards said. "We have done everything they have asked and more."

The Cougars featured one of the more dynamic offenses in the state, led by quarterback Iosefa Toia'ivao, who has thrown for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Kearns also featured running back Naki Leha, who ran for 1,196 yards and 15 scores, and two-way standout Jeffrey Bassa, the No. 7-rated recruit in the state of Utah by 247 Sports who recently committed to Oregon.

Later Thursday, Granite School District confirmed the quarantine of the football in a letter to parents, adding that the school has surpassed the 15 confirmed cases at the high school and has been recommended by the Salt Lake County health department to move classes online immediately.

"As part of our planning process this summer, we anticipated that such a dismissal would invariably occur, and the district and your school are prepared for this circumstance," the district wrote in a letter to parents. "Per the health department, this dismissal is not a quarantine. This notice does not supersede any quarantine instructions."

The school building will be closed through Friday, Oct. 23, for deep cleaning, with all teachers working from home and students engaged in distance learning. Teachers will be allowed to re-enter the school building beginning Monday, Oct. 26, but students will only be allowed brief access to obtain work-from-home items for two weeks.

The school dismissal will postpone or cancel all school-related activities, though extracurricular activities will not be affected — unless the group surpasses the three-person quarantine, such as football. Any postponements will be worked to be rescheduled, the district said.

"We have agonized over the fact that this dismissal will effectively end the football team's season," the district said. "We acknowledge that great success they have experienced this season. We sincerely regret this is the case, but readily acknowledge that the safety for our students and employees will continue to be paramount above all else."

Earlier in the week, Fremont confirmed a positive test result of multiple players on the Silverwolves' football team, becoming the first team to withdraw from the Class 6A state playoffs. A short time later, Uintah withdrew from the 4A playoffs after a previously approved plan to return from quarantine in time for the postseason had to be adjusted when multiple players and coaches tested positive during one of two mandatory tests among the program Tuesday.

As a result of those quarantines, Copper Hills advances by forfeit to face American Fork in the second round of the 6A playoffs — the first postseason "victory" for the Grizzlies in school history. In the 4A bracket, Mountain View — which defeated Uintah 49-0 during the regular season — advances by forfeit to face sixth-seeded Stansbury in the second round.

Other schools that have been pushed to a minimum of two weeks of online learning due to COVID-19 infection rates include Farmington and Hunter.

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