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COVID scare postpones South Williamsport’s first 2 football games

Chris Eiswerth loves high school football. But he loves his players a lot more.

And that is why the South Williamsport football coach decided to postpone the team’s first two games against Muncy and CMVT. Although no player has officially tested positive for COVID-19, six were placed in quarantine after being pulled from practice Tuesday and four others reported fevers Wednesday.

Eiswerth shut down practice after the quarantined players were removed Tuesday and did not hesitate canceling the next two games out of an abundance of caution.

South hopes to play its season opener Sept. 25 and will try rescheduling the Muncy and CMVT games later this year. South became the second school to postpone its season opener in two days after Loyalsock’s opener at Warrior Run was called off Tuesday.

Muncy and Warrior Run, both of which had their games Friday postponed, were able to work out a deal so the Defenders can host the Indians on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Mount Carmel had previously postponed its season opener this week against Southern Columbia because of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the school. Bloomsburg had to push back its opener with Hughesville to Saturday after quarantining its team because of a threat of a positive COVID test causing it to miss a day of preseason practice.

“I’m so sad. My heart is broken, but being a leader is taking the good with the bad and my goal is to continue to help the kids and families in South Williamsport,” Eiswerth said. “Safety and the welfare of the children is the No. 1 goal. These kids, the entire team, we’re a family and I treat them like they’re my sons. Then you take that to Muncy and CMVT. That would effect them, too, and we don’t want that. We have to do it the right way.

“We started June 17 the right way and we would like to finish the right way.”

South had its scrimmage against Troy canceled last Saturday 66 minutes before kickoff after receiving a call about a potential COVID-19 case and/or exposure. The team was cleared to return Tuesday, but after the six players were pulled from practice, Eiswerth immediately shut it down.

It has been a hard time for nearly everyone during the pandemic and Eiswerth was emotional when talking about his players. Still, he said he knew he could not jeopardize their health or the opponent’s health by moving forward and playing Friday.

“I take ownership in this family we have and that’s this football team. I believe that that’s one of our roles as coaches to lead and to mentor and to guide,” Eiswerth said. “Coaches sometimes get a bad rap with some saying all they want to do is win and compete. I love those things, but make no mistake, I’ve done this for 21 years and that’s not what keeps you in the business that long. My thing is helping these kids and I’m proud of what we’ve built over the years and some of the greatest friendships I’ve have been made with these players over the years and we want to keep doing what is right.”

Eiswerth is optimistic that by taking swift action, his team can return to practice Sept. 21 and prepare to play rival Montgomery.

“This is hard, so hard. My players and staff work so hard, but I thought if we all do this together and wait two weeks it would be so much better. We lifted together, worked together, why not stick together? Hopefully, we’ll get that chance to have some normalcy and smell the grass and get that feeling of accomplishment that one gets through competing in high school sports.”

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