FAIRBORN, Ohio — The high school football playoffs have arrived, and for the Fairborn Skyhawks, this would have been the first time they were able to compete. But a chance to make school history has been wiped out by COVID-19 before even stepping onto the field.
One player and one coach have tested positive for the coronavirus, causing a domino-effect throughout the team.
All 68 players and the entire coaching staff are now quarantining out of precaution and their game against Winthrow has been forfeited.
Fairborn City Schools Superintendent Gene Lolli said the decision to forfeit is heartbreaking.
“All this — it means so much to kids,” Lolli said. "I remember those days. My heart goes out to all of them and the coaches who have prepared and worked so hard in the offseason. To have to pull the plug and say, 'Hey we have to back out of the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs,' (it's) very very disappointing. But you know what, we will get through this.”
At least seven other high school football teams are facing similar disappointing outcomes. Central Crossing, Cory-Rawson, Portsmouth Notre Dame, Portsmouth Sciotoville, Warren Champion, Newcomerstown and Delphos Jefferson all have had to forfeit.
Lolli said this is the second time Fairborn has had to pause the football program due to COVID-19, so the district is taking it very seriously.
“Unfortunately it seems Fairborn has been hit here in the last three, four weeks with this situation,” Lolli said. “But we’re just going to have to continue to everything we can to be safe.”
Withrow Athletic Director Jonas L. Smith said they were expecting a close contest with Fairborn.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the players and coaching staff,” Smith wrote via email. “This pandemic has been extremely frustrating for education-based athletics and life as a whole. We are hopeful that their team can come back and play additional regular season games soon.”
Withrow has picked up an exhibition game against Anderson this week, before resuming playoff action against Turpin next Friday.
Lolli is hopeful once this outbreak passes, the team can resume games in a few weeks — they just won't be playoff games.
“Our student athletes are very resilient, and will get through this,” Lolli said. “Hopefully we will quarantine them for 14 days and start the football program back up and hopefully schedule two games weeks nine and 10 so they can finish out their season.”