Odessa High School is a perennial state power in football. The Bulldogs, in search of their second consecutive Missouri Class 3 state championship, steamrolled through their first nine opponents last fall. But then, multiple COVID-19 cases ended Odessa’s undefeated regular season. The Bulldogs forfeited its first playoff game as a result.
Kelly Donohoe won four state titles in 19 seasons as head coach at Blue Springs. His first season at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City ended last year after someone in the program tested positive for coronavirus. The Hawklets were 5-3 at the time and prepared for a state playoff opener that never came.
Lee’s Summit North is led by Jamar Mozee. The Broncos have made progress over the last few years, winning a Suburban Gold Conference championship in 2018. Wins in recent seasons over rivals Lee’s Summit West and Blue Springs cemented North as one of the area’s best teams. But last year, the Broncos’ season ended early due to COVID-19, as did Oak Park’s.
Of course, back then there was no vaccine, so while some teams were able to play a full schedule, others weren’t as lucky, and the threat of an outbreak was omnipresent. Now, with summer drills set to begin later this month, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The rollout of Pfizer’s FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination for children as young as 12 could begin soon, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that could help keep high school athletes on the field in the coming months. People age 16 and older were already eligible.
It’s hard to imagine there will be many holdouts, given that the best way to assure a full and uninterrupted fall sports season is for high school athletes to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.