Utica HS football home opener canceled after player contracted COVID-19

Less than two weeks after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reinstated high school sports for the fall, one football team is already calling a time out.

Utica's season opener this upcoming Friday has been canceled because the varsity team is under a COVID quarantine.

"Were they disappointed? Yes, however, at the same point they are very happy that they even have a season this year," said Tera Powrozek, a parent of a Utica High School varsity football student.

But the season opener just won't be part of it. The game has been canceled after one of the players contracted the coronavirus off-campus.

"The student informed the school and the school immediately then turned around and personally informed the football team, but also sent a letter to the entire community on Labor Day," said Tim McAvoy. 

Since the beginning of the school year, classes in the district have been conducted remotely but the football team is now on quarantine, meaning it will not participate in activities for two weeks.

Catherine Berg's son Brett serves as a quarterback for the team. 

"He's doing his schoolwork; that keeps him busy. Working out. Getting ready, they have a lot of Zoom meetings with the team," she said. 

"We've been very consistent and deliberate in our planning taking an approach best for the kids and the health and safety of our entire community," McAvoy said.

The efforts come as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides enhanced information that now notifies families if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a particular K-12 school or university.

Parents say having a state website that identifies schools where outbreaks are active not only provides more awareness but more protection also. 

"We should know if the team we are playing against, if there is an outbreak," Powrozek said.

"It's a tool patents can use, certainly," McAvoy said.

As efforts continue to keep students safe, Utica's football team will play its first game September 25.