COVID contact cancels Marksville's playoff hopes

Caldwell player tests positive, forcing Tigers to drop out of 1st round game with Green Oaks

After a hard-fought, emotional victory over District 3-AAA rival Caldwell Parish Spartans Friday night, the Marksville Tigers were looking forward to a road trip to Green Oaks High in Shreveport for the opening round of the 2020 playoffs. Instead, MHS Coach J.T. Dunbar had to deliver "one of the hardest kind of talks" a coach can have with his team.

They have to drop out of the playoffs.

Dunbar said he learned Sunday night that Caldwell Parish High had one or more of its players test positive for COVID-19.

"Today (Monday) I contacted our medical personnel and I thought we would be okay to play," Dunbar said.

But the cards didn't fall the Tigers' way.

Not only was there the issue of "contact tracing" because Marksville defenders had been in close contact with the infected offensive player, the teams' argument in favor of playing was sunk when a couple of the Tigers' started exhibiting minor symptoms that could be associated with COVID. Those symptoms could also be associated with minor sinus infections, allergies, head colds and a number of ailments.

The combination of contact with a COVID-positive individual and symptoms ended up forcing Marksville to forfeit its first round game with the No. 7-seeded Green Oaks Giants.

"This is certainly not the way we wanted to end this season," Dunbar said. "This is what these guys work for all year, the opportunity to go to the playoffs. This happened at the worst possible time. The kids were excited and we were playing our best football at the right time of the year. That makes it even more disappointing."

The news that the Spartans had one or more players with COVID was a surprise, but in hindsight it probably shouldn't have been. Caldwell Parish currently has the state's second-highest rates for new cases per day and has the sixth-highest positive test rate, according to the online COVID Act Now.Org, which analyzes COVID statistics across the state and nation.

In its report for Monday (Nov. 23), COVID Act Now found Avoyelles' new cases-per-day rate to be 46th out of the 64 parishes and its positive test rate to be 55th.

The season began under the shadow of COVID-19, with the 10-game season shortened to eight games because of a late start due to schools delaying opening until late August. That shadow was never far away every week. All three Avoyelles Parish teams felt its effect even before this final hit.

Avoyelles High had to miss two games due to several players testing positive for COVID. The Mustangs were able to play one make-up game so they had seven games instead of eight. Bunkie High had to find a last-minute replacement for its opening game because its scheduled opponent had players with COVID. Marksville ended up with a shorter season than expected because scheduled opponent Menard had a COVID case.

As of now, Avoyelles and Bunkie will host first-round games in the Class 2A playoffs this Friday. Avoyelles is No. 11 and will face the No. 22 Oakdale Warriors in Moreauville. Bunkie is seeded 13th and will take on the 20th-ranked Pickering Red Devils.

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