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Yukai Peng, Deseret News, File

Kearns football back in the 6A playoffs under modified COVID-19 protocols from Salt Lake County health department

By Sean Walker, | Posted - Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:25 p.m.

KEARNS — Kearns High School football will be allowed back into the Class 6A state tournament, under a few concessions.

The Cougars will be allowed to return to the state playoffs next week, with a few days to practice, if they receive negative test results for COVID-19 in two separate tests, Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley told KSL on Friday afternoon.

Kearns (8-1) saw its season cut short Thursday when a third player on the team tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Under currently Salt Lake County health department regulations and in accordance with state board of education and school district policy, the Cougars would've been required to quarantine the program for two weeks — marking them out of the playoffs.

But because Kearns earned the No. 5 seed in the 6A playoffs after a Region 2 co-championship regular season, the Cougars had a bye during the opening round. That meant no game Friday, and around 10 days off before their next game.

So the district office worked with the health department to gauge the new policy that will allow players and coaches to return to practice by Tuesday in time for next Friday's second round. The Cougars are scheduled to host East next Friday, when another round of rapid testing will be administered to all participants. Any player that tests negative will be allowed to participate.

"In this particular case, because they have done so well and had a first-round bye because of their ranking, at this point we've been on the phone with the health department trying to figure out if there is a way to make this happen," Horsley said.

If a player tests negative, they can resume practicing Wednesday and Thursday, so coaches and school staff members were busy Friday scrambling to make sure each player received a first test before the weekend.

"We're very grateful. We have agonized over this decision," Horsley said. "We have seniors on a team that is doing so well. To cut the decision short because of COVID was not a decision to come to very easily. But they produced the protocols to get to this situation, and still do so safely.

"We feel very comfortable that we are still watching out for the safety of these kids, which is paramount — and still finding a way for them to play."

Earlier Friday, Layton Christian bowed out of the 2A playoffs. The Eagles, who have just 20 players on their roster, were 30 minutes away from Enterprise when they found out that a player on the traveling roster had tested positive, and the coaching staff and administration made the decision to forfeit the game rather than risk spreading the virus to the Wolves.

The forfeit now marks the third such forfeiture for COVID-19 reasons in Utah's postseason, after Fremont and Uintah bowed out of their respective matchups earlier in the week.

Contributing: Scott Bigger, KSL

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