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Heart River football latest to not play games as scheduled due to COVID-19

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Heart River's games vs. Bowman County and Trinity will not be played on their originally scheduled dates. (Josiah C Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

At least some of the football team at Heart River is under a quarantine order due to issues with COVID-19. The players must be quarantined for 14-days.

Interim State Health Officer Dr. Paul Mariani amended a state health officer order expanding the quarantine orders to all close contacts. This follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. The North Dakota Department of Health has always recommended close contacts quarantine to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but previously the order referred only to household contacts.

“Whenever possible, all close contacts of individuals infected with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days past the last day they were in contact with the person who tested positive,” said Mariani. “Individuals who are named as close contacts and comply with their quarantine are actively protecting older adults in their community. These are our parents and grandparents. Quarantine is not convenient, but it is necessary.”

The Cougars region 4 matchups at Bowman County this Friday on Sept. 25 and next Friday, Oct. 2 vs. Trinity, will not be played as scheduled due to standing quarantine order.

Head coach Carter Maynard said that the team’s plans moving forward would have the team back in action practicing on Monday, Oct. 5 — though Maynard wouldn’t confirm the reason.

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Currently, the hope is that the games missed against the Cougars and Titans will be permitted to be rescheduled, but with time dwindling on the season and upticks of cases on the Western Edge those hopes may be dashed.

“If we could play another game on top of the two we have left, we will see if we can work that out,” Maynard said. “I doubt it will happen and I don’t know… It would be nice though.”

According to Maynard, everyone knew there was a possibility once the season started that a full scale situation could occur, limiting the football teams ability to compete, but Maynard and his coaching staff say that they and the school did everything they could to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.

In the end, the profound sadness experienced by the players couldn’t be put into words as seniors will miss two of their final few high school games.

The Cougars did play Bowman County in their first game of the season, with the Bulldogs winning 26-0, but it was a non-region game.

Maynard did not know if that game could be made into a region game to count toward the region standing, which would dictate playoff positioning, but would pursue that option with the state if needed.

As for his players, Maynard knows that they have been going through a tough season off the field, and this doesn’t help the situation.

“It has been a roller coaster ride from day one, because at the beginning it was ‘are we even going to have a season,’” he said. “You are constantly looking over your shoulder and there are so many different variables involved with COVID-19. My biggest thing for the players is mentally, because they are in the same boat. We don’t talk about it, and I don’t bring it up at practice so the boys can focus on playing football.”

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Maynard said his empathy wasn’t reserved solely for the Heart River football players, and

extended his thoughts to all athletes across the state and country who are facing similar challenges.

“It is a tough deal for a student athlete to go through,” he said. “I don’t care what school you go to or what region you are in, they are all struggling and that is the sad thing about it. Even worse, any senior in sports across the state and country, if it isn’t on their mind, then I’d be surprised.”

The next scheduled game for Heart River is Friday, Oct. 9 at home versus Shiloh Christian.

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