The East St. John football team was only hours away from its game last Friday at Terrebonne went word came for what has been the case for far too many schools during the 2020 season.
“We didn’t find out until Friday after school. Around 2:30, 3:00, our principal gave me a called and told me that we had a possible case from a freshman player,” East St. John coach Brandon Brown said. “We just decided to do some contact tracing and figure out, when and where. He’s a very young guy. He’s not the very best athlete, but he’s young, so we try to keep him around and just trying to build something. So, he’s not there every day. He did show up on Tuesday at practice and that was the only day he was there all week. It’s been confirmed with the school that he had a positive test.
“We tried to figure out who he was on contact with, the whole nine yards. At that point, it was too late to do a thorough contract tracing investigation, so it was probably in the best interest of everyone to cancel the game instead of bringing us down to Terrebonne and then possibly having someone else positive and put their season in jeopardy, as well.”
East St. John has been added to a growing list of schools to be affected by COVID-19, as cases have risen both nationally and in the state over the past few weeks.
“We were really disappointed,” Brown said of having to cancel the Terrebonne game. “I saw the look in my seniors’ eyes. They were very hurt but that’s just the kind of year we have been having with so much going on surrounding COVID and everything else.”
What was to have been the Wildcats’ regular-season finale against Thibodaux also has been cancelled.
“As of now, we are not playing,” said Brown. “We will fully quarantine the team and staff. We will revisit this this week and see how things are and what’s our next steps. Right now, it’s just a matter of making sure our guys stay safe. We will get everyone tested and do contact tracing and see how we can move forward.”
As is the nature of the coronavirus, particularly in the case of competitive sports, a positive case on one locale has an affect on the other.
Thibodaux, sitting at No. 33 in the unofficial power ratings, needs to play a game to be in possible contention for a playoff spot int the 32-team Class 5A bracket.
“When I spoke to Coach (Chris) Dugas at Thibodaux, he already said there were some confirmed teams calling him trying to fill a game,” Brown said. “They had some openings, and they were calling him because the word was out East St. John was not playing.
“At that point, in all fairness, I said, ‘Coach, if you have a game, I wouldn’t tell you don’t take it, waiting on us.’ He’s sitting right at 33 and he needs a game. I would hate to have him waiting on us and then things don’t work out. Hopefully, it works out for everyone involved and we do get a chance to get in (the playoffs). I think we’ve had a really good year and I would hate for it to just be the end of it now.”
If there is any silver lining for East St. John, it’s in the fact the Wildcats are 5-1 on the season and have met the criteria of having played at least four games to be eligible for the playoffs.
“We’ve met this threshold. At the end of the day, we are praying that it all works, and if it works out, we get a chance to get in and put our best foot forward,” Brown said.
Sitting at No. 18 in the unofficial power rankings, winning out over the last two weeks could have vaulted the Wildcats into position to possibly host a first-round playoff game.
“That’s the part that really hurts. When making decisions, you have to always think our kids and our kids’ safety. It was tough, but then again, it wasn’t very tough. We didn’t want to put anybody in a bad situation. We decided to err on the side of caution,” said Brown.
Whether East St. John will be at home or on the road for the first round of the playoffs, even with improved conditions, the timetable will allow little, to perhaps, no practice time, for the Wildcats in a playoff opener.
“Now, the question is when does our days start. Does it start from (last Friday) or from the last time the young man was even around the team. That’s kind of what we are investigating right now and trying to get to the bottom of. If our 10-14 days started (last Friday) that puts us at not having any practices and just showing up and playing for the first round of the playoffs,” Brown said.