One of the more hyped second round playoff games in years is not going to happen.
At 11 a.m. today, just a few hours before the Covington football team was going to hop on a bus and head to Milan, word came down from the Covington High School administration: the Chargers were forfeiting the game because of COVID-19 issues.
In a statement issued this morning, CHS principal Mark McClain said, “Due to COVID-19 and within the interest of health and safety of students, staff and families the Covington High School administration regrets to inform you that the Covington High School Charger football team will be forfeiting tonight’s playoff game. We have been fortunate to conduct in-person school and many activities since August, but with the recent rise in cases across the region and necessary travel and proximity of players, the administration has determined that participating in the playoff game tonight would not be in the best interest of the health of our students, staff, their families and our community.”
Covington head coach J.R. Kirby informed his players about an hour ago.
“That’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a coach, tell them their season is over with,” Kirby said. “It’s very, very disappointing to see our season end like this. On the positive side, we did get to play our season, but to have to tell the seniors, who have been such a big part of our success the last three or four years, that they’re done is tough … I support our administration’s decision. They’re making the best decision for everyone involved. It was a very difficult decision.”
McClain did not want to say how many football players have tested positive or have been quarantined.
“I don’t want to single them out from the rest of the student body,” McClain said.
Kirby said some players had been quarantined earlier in the week “and things didn’t get any better.”
Because Milan beat Covington in triple overtime in the regular season and the rumors that someone connected with Covington had instigated an investigation of Milan possibly playing with ineligible players, the rematch was drawing a lot of attention.
Covington’s season ends at 8-2. Milan will go on to play South Gibson or Westview in the quarterfinals next week.
“I feel bad for those seniors,” Kirby said. “They’re not going to get to play another football game. I’ll coach more games, but they won’t get to play again. You can imagine it was very emotional, a lot of tears, a lot of tears and sad long faces. Those guys have meant so much for this program. I want them to know how proud I am of them and how much I love them.”