The Mead football program announced Monday morning that it would not compete in the Class 3A postseason due to exposure to COVID-19 inside the program.
With the release of the state playoff brackets Sunday morning, the Mavericks nabbed the fifth seed and were expected to travel to Dutch Clark Stadium to face Pueblo South in the first round Saturday.
The excitement was short-lived.
Later that night, Mavs coach Jason Klatt and athletic director Chad Eisentrager said they learned of the exposure in the program. Following COVID-19 protocols set by the state and district, Eisentrager said it was then confirmed Monday, and now the Mavs will have to quarantine, per state rules.
Klatt addressed his players with the news on a video call.
“Just tried to reemphasize the points that Mead football is all about,” Klatt said. “We’re built on a strong foundation of character and this is just a minor bump in the road. Their lives are not all about football. They’re much more than that. And they’re going to face adversity in life, and they need to know and understand how to deal with that. That’s part of being in our program. They understand what it means to be resilient and bounce back from something.”
This gut punch hurts, nonetheless.
“In 2020 right now, this football team meant everything to these kids, and to our coaches and our community,” Eisentrager said. “Just like our (4A runner-up) softball team did because it gave people a little bit of a break and it felt like normalcy whenever we got to watch Mead play a football game.”
This premature end is painfully similar to that of Mead basketball, the No. 1 team in 4A who were in the state semifinals last March when COVID-19 put an end to the season days before a champion could be decided.
For both, “the rug is pulled out,” Eisentrager said, “and they don’t get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
The football team had been following in the successful footsteps of the school’s softball team, which finished as the 4A runner-up last month.
Outscoring teams by a combined 181 points, the Mavs had finished off a sixth straight winning season with a blowout victory over Frederick Friday. At 5-1 in the regular season, all five of their wins had been dominant, while their lone loss came to 3A No. 1 Roosevelt by one point in overtime.
Because of forfeit their first-round opponent, Pueblo South, will move onto the 3A semifinals, per CHSAA.
“These kids are tough young men and they’ll be fine,” Eisentrager said. “There will be some sadness. There were a lot of tears today in our team (video) meeting, and for good reason because they’ve invested so much into each other, into the program, into coach Klatt and what he stands for.”
Further details concerning the program’s exposure to COVID-19 were not released due to privacy laws.