MT. PLEASANT — When one domino falls, the other isn’t far behind, and right now enough dominoes in Mt. Pleasant High School’s COVID-19 outbreak have dropped to cancel or postpone two varsity sporting events.
On Friday, the Panthers had to cancel their road football game at Burlington, a contest that was supposed to be the Chiefs’ homecoming game. Then on Monday, it was announced that the school’s varsity volleyball game at Burlington had been postponed.
The school is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, on point with a rising number of positive cases in Henry County. Although the school can’t confirm that any varsity fall sports teams have tested positive, there are positive cases within the school and that means a bunch of students on quarantine.
Because there are that many students being quarantined, Mt. Pleasant is down over 20 fall athletes. That makes it tough to field a team, especially in volleyball, where the number of quarantined players has made it difficult to field a varsity team.
“We don’t have very many to begin with on our varsity roster,” said Mt. Pleasant Athletic Director Scot Lamm. “Between regular illness, some injury stuff and quarantine, it has basically wiped out the varsity team.”
Mt. Pleasant’s cancellation with Burlington freed the Grayhounds up for a makeup game against Fairfield. The Trojans will play Burlington at 5 p.m. in Keokuk before their regularly scheduled game against the Chiefs at 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s football cancellation was made the morning of the game. With the situation rapidly changing, the school decided to play it safe and not send their football team south to play at Keokuk.
“I had a hint on Thursday that some things might be coming at us,” said Panther head football coach Shawn Striegel. “Other than that, it was as much as shock to me as anyone else.”
The good news for Panther football fans is the team still is planning to play on Friday at Fort Madison. Over half of the varsity starters are currently good to go, and Striegel says the Panthers will need to rely on other players to step up in the absence of the usual cast.
“I know I’ve already had a couple of kids who have said, ‘since so and so is out, does that mean I’m in?” Striegel said. “The kids are excited to step up and do their job.”
Before the football season started, the Iowa High School Athletic Association made the announcement that every team will make the playoffs. A big part of the reason for that decision was to put in a security blanket just in case teams had to cancel regular season games.
“In my opinion, that’s the only reason we did it,” Lamm said. “The playoffs were designed this way because you could end someone’s season right out of the shoot by them not being able to play a game.”
The Panther volleyball team is expected to pick back up as soon as possible, with no other future games currently postponed or cancelled. The team will ideally be able to make up their game against Burlington since it is a Southeast Conference matchup.
The amount of time each athlete has to sit out varies on how long they’ve been gone and how they are feeling. Since many of the players are asymptomatic and only on quarantine for cautionary reasons, a lot of it is based on when they were last in contact with someone who has since tested positive.
The varsity volleyball team is next scheduled to play at the Southeast Conference tournament, which begins on Oct. 6 in Fairfield. The Panther cross-country team is expected to run on as scheduled, and is planning on being in Washington tonight for the Demons’ home meet.