Kearns High football cancels playoff game due to more cases of COVID-19

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kearns players rush onto the field as Kearns hosts Lone Peak, high school football, Thursday September 14, 2017.

The Kearns High School football team is out of the playoffs — again.

The 6A state tournament second-round game between the Cougars and East High has been canceled after coronavirus tests revealed “a high rate of transmission,” Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said in a statement. The Salt Lake County Health Department recommended the team no longer participate in the playoffs, and the team agreed.

“Simply put: We have too many cases in our program,” Kearns coach Matt Rickards said when reached by The Salt Lake Tribune. “The data shows that COVID is in our program. And it would not be in anyone’s best interest to play Friday.”

Kearns initially planned to forfeit the second-round game scheduled for Friday after a third Cougars player tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The team was to be dismissed for 14 days.

But a day later, the health department and school district worked together to come up with a testing plan that would allow the Cougars to compete in the playoffs due to their first-round bye. They’d be tested Saturday and the morning of the East game. The players and coaches who tested negative in both tests — the second was to be a rapid test — they would get to play or coach.

The test results from Saturday came back Tuesday.

“I want to thank all of the parents for fighting so hard to give our kids a chance to play,” Rickards said. “We also had opposing coaches reach out to the health department for us to have the opportunity to play. I am truly blessed to be the head coach at Kearns with this type of support.”

The Cougars finished the season 8-1 overall and were ranked fifth in the RPI among 6A teams.

“We again express our sadness and pride and hope that this wonderful group of young men will hold their heads high for the way they have represented our school and community,” Kearns High principal Maile Loo wrote in a letter to football parents.