By Maurice Patton
A positive COVID-19 test for a Columbia Central football player has resulted in the suspension of practice until the end of the two-week Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association-mandated dead period, which begins June 22.
“As we know at this time, no other programs are impacted as a result,” Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter said Monday in announcing the development. “My heart goes out to the families and to the young man who has it. We’re praying for him, for a speedy recovery, and that no other student-athletes are impacted as a result.”
Over the weekend, Central coach Jason Hoath was advised by a team parent that one of the players had been in direct contact with an individual who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. As a precautionary measure, Monday’s practice was canceled while awaiting results of the player’s test.
On Sunday, the unidentified player tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the decision to suspend this week’s workouts. The team will resume practice on July 5, following the conclusion of the dead period. The suspension will allow the 14-day quarantine for student-athletes recommended by the Center for Disease Control.
“We’ve got time to make sure everybody’s good to go,” Hoath said. “Hopefully when July comes we’re past all this. We want to make sure everybody’s safe and healthy, first and foremost. We have to take the necessary steps to make sure everybody stays that way.”
Since receiving word of the positive test, dressing areas and training facilities for other Central athletic programs have been sufficiently sanitized to allow them to continue workouts this week.
“We executed the plan we had in place, we got it out to the community to make sure everybody was aware that everybody’s safe and we’re taking the necessary actions moving forward,” Poynter said. “Because of the way we have our athletic programs set up, it’s an isolated, contained issue where it doesn’t affect any of the other programs at Columbia Central.
“If this student-athlete has been in contact with others, once we’re made aware of that, we’ll act accordingly.”
Strictly from a football perspective, the stoppage after returning to workouts just a week ago is obviously inconvenient – particularly with longtime Lions assistant Scott Tilghman taking over offensive coordinator responsibilities for the first time.
“I felt that for the first week, even with (pandemic) restrictions, we did a good job following the rules and doing what we could do to introduce some offensive and defensive concepts,” Hoath said. “With Coach Tilghman running the offense, not having spring ball, this is a critical time to try to install some offense.
“(But) there’s nothing we could have done further to prevent it. We kept players in groups, we sanitize areas. There’s certain things you can’t prevent. We’ll take it in stride, and hopefully in July we’ll be back at it and pick up where we left off.”
Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.