As is the case across our region, local high schools are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The recent uptick in confirmed cases have some schools operating with an abundance of caution.
On Oct. 21, it was announced that Montrose Area suspended its athletic programs after a student tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test forced the football team, which has a cooperative football agreement with Elk Lake, into quarantine. In turn, the pause forced the cancelation of Friday night’s (Oct. 23) home game against Old Forge, according to Montrose athletic director Joe Gilhool. Montrose had also postponed scheduled girls and boys soccer matches against Elk Lake. Gilhool said the school district will monitor and evaluate the situation with a hope to resume athletics Monday, Oct. 26.
“We are back up and running as of now,” Gilhool said in a phone conversation Monday morning. “But because of the quarantine situation with football, their season is over.”
First year football head coach Kerry Patton reflected on the shortened season, one that saw the Meteors team break a 26 year losing streak, and finish at .500 for the first time in over 15 years.
“I was honored to play a significant role as the head high school football coach for many young men and women this past year,” he said in a social media posting after the announcement.
“Unfortunately, we had an incredibly short season lined up with only five games. Things got hectic with one school having to cancel due to COVID and as of (Friday), our program also had to shut down,” he continued. “We were able to play two games, which is much better than what the spring athletes were able to participate in, therefore, I feel incredibly lucky we had an opportunity to even play no matter how large or small the season.”
Patton also wrote, “Our community is one based on resiliency and perseverance. Our athletes demonstrated that in a way I wish the world could have seen. We played our first game- we lost 50 something to nothing- which 35 points were scored in the first quarter and the rest in the second. We didn’t allow points against us in the third or fourth quarters. We made serious adjustments in that second half.”
Patton reflected, “God, if only we had a scrimmage in the beginning of the season to truly assess what we had to work with. But, the next game, we turned everything around and won 46-6. Talk about determination and grit.”
In addition to moving the program forward, Patton said the team had two young ladies physically play on the team, both getting game time experience, which is also a first for the program. The Meteors also brought on the first female coach in the league.
“Our participant numbers more than doubled in size in comparison to last year. Simply put, our program which was on the brink of total collapse, moved leaps and bounds,” Patton said. “Today, I can say with the utmost confidence, we are 100 percent moving in the right direction for the years to come.”
He concluded, “I could not be more proud of these student athletes.”
Joby Fawcett and Steve Bennett also contributed to this report.