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Pushed back again: State testing requirements force another adjustment to high school football playoffs

With referee Brad Austin watching the play, Negaunee pass defenders Matt Skewis, front, and Will Luke just miss making an interception of a pass thrown to Manistique receiver Lucas Gould, on the ground, during the second quarter of their high school football game played at the Miners’ field on Sept. 18. Negaunee’s Parker Cain put pressure on Emeralds’ quarterback Wyatt Gierke that made him hurry the throw. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

EAST LANSING — Apparently the high school football playoffs will be pushed back yet another week, if not more.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association adjusted its schedule to conclude fall tournaments in football, volleyball and Lower Peninsula girls swimming and diving on Tuesday after receiving details and requirements for a pilot rapid testing program from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s the only way that activities like high school sports can be held during the most recent pause announced in November and extended earlier this month.

Due to these requirements and a need for more direction from the MDHHS that is scheduled to be announced during the next week, the MHSAA has instructed schools still participating in those sports to suspend practice immediately.

The only team in The Mining Journal daily coverage area this affects is the Negaunee High School football team, which has been suspended in the regional round of the 11-Player Division 6 playoffs since mid-November.

On the ensuing kickoff following a L'Anse touchdown in the second quarter, Negaunee's Nick Jacobetti, second from right, finds a hole to run through amid a clash of bodies behind him for a touchdown in their game played at the Miners' field in Negaunee on Oct. 2. Blocking for the Miners are Tom McCollum, Brady Roose and Nash Hillier, while defending for L'Anse are Christian Brown and Noah Aleo (hidden). (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

The MHSAA is working to update competition dates to better reflect the testing schedule. Taking part in the MDHHS testing pilot is a requirement for athletes to participate in the further competitions in these sports.

Previous to this announcement, 11-Player and Eight-Player playoffs were set to resume on Jan. 2.

But fall teams taking part in the pilot program are expected to receive rapid-result antigen tests and more instruction by Tuesday, the first of two days that the MDHHS plans to conduct webinars to train school personnel who will be involved in the testing process.

Once the first tests have been administered next Wednesday, full team practices may commence with approrpriate results. If schools are delayed in the start of testing, those schools may begin practice once individuals have had one negative test.

With teams restarting practice next Wednesday at the earliest, competition dates will almost assuredly be moved to later dates.

Confirmation of updated dates will be announced on the MHSAA website at www.mhsaa.com.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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