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Kearns vs. Olympus #2
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Granite School District Reverses Cancellation, Says Kearns’ Playoff Football ‘Game Is On’

Kearns' Naki Leha (24) carries the ball against Olympus' Jordan Allred (27) during a high school football game at Kearns High School in Kearns on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Granite School District announced that the playoff football game for the No. 8 ranked and No. 5 seed Kearns Cougars is back “on” after the contest was canceled a day earlier because of COVID-19.

On October 22, an official from the school district confirmed to KSL Sports that the Cougars would have their season end early and they’d have to forfeit their second round playoff game after multiple members of the team tested positive for the virus.

“We have agonized over this decision,” Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsley said of the original decision. “To cut their season short because because of COVID was not a decision that came we came to very easily.”

A day later on Friday, October 23, Horsley said that the decision to end Kearns’ season early had been reversed.

“We’ve actually been working constantly with the health department since this got announced and they have produced a protocol to get testing completed for all these players in advance of their game on Friday, next week. So it looks like the game is on,” Horsley said.

The reversed decision took place following discussions with the health department and the ability to have players tested for COVID-19 prior to their postseason game. With negative test results and the new protocol followed, the Cougars will have an opportunity to make a run in the playoffs.

“We have worked closely with Salt Lake County Health Department, they produced a protocol to help get us over this situation and make sure that they can do so safely and healthily and still follow the health guidance that we have,” Horsley continued. “So we feel very comfortable that we’re watching out for the safety of these kids, which is paramount, and still finding a way to allow them to play the game.”

Original Decision

On October 22, Granite School District addressed the canceled football game in a letter addressed to parents of Kearns High students.

“We have worked closely with the Health Department to scrutinize the case information and can confirm at this time that our football team now has 3-confirmed cases within that 14-day window. In addition to the schoolwide dismissal, we have received the recommendation to dismiss the football team for this same time period,” the Granite School District told parents in the letter. “We have agonized over the fact that this dismissal will effectively end the football team’s season. We acknowledge the great success they have experienced this season. We sincerely regret this is the case but readily acknowledge that the safety for our students and employees will continue to be paramount above all else.”

“Very hard thing to tell these guys,” Kearns head coach Matt Rickards told the Deseret News. “We are always masked. We have done everything they have asked and more.”

After dropping a game to the West Panthers in the second to last game, Kearns ended the regular season with a record of 8-1.

The Cougars earned a first round bye in the 2020 state football championship bracket for 6A and are slated to play the winner of the first round matchup between No. 12 East (5-4) and No. 21 Clearfield (3-7) on Friday, October 30 at 6 p.m. (MDT).