SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Despite taking plenty of precautions, the Saguaro High School football team's season has fallen victim to the coronavirus.
The Scottsdale Unified School District made the announcement in a news release Thursday, just one day before the Sabercats were due to play Salpointe Catholic High School on Friday in the first round of playoffs.
“I am heartbroken for all of our players, coaches, trainers, staff and family members who have sacrificed and persevered through one of the most difficult times of all of our lives," Jason Mohns, Saguaro's head football coach, said in a statement. "I am especially devastated for our seniors, who have given so much to our program, but have lost so many of the experiences and opportunities that make our program great.”
The team had already had several games canceled due to positive cases on their opponents' teams, including Chaparral High School, Campo Verde in Gilbert and Notre Dame Prep. An Oct. 30 match-up against Horizon High School, Phoenix, was rescheduled and played on Nov. 13.
In order to play, the Arizona Interscholastic Association regulations dictate that the number of team members, coaches or staff on a team who test positive for the coronavirus must be fewer than two.
The school district's coronavirus data indicates that there are three active coronavirus cases on Saguaro's campus, as of this week. That brings the school's total to 23 — the highest in the district for the semester.
Arizona's cases continue to rise steadily, with the Arizona Department of Health Services reporting 4,314 new cases and 20 additional deaths.
Despite not being able to play in the playoffs Friday, school officials are proud of their student athletes.
“What our student athletes learned along the way about perseverance and commitment to a common purpose, both on and off the field, will be of such value as they graduate from Saguaro and move on to whatever is next," Ann Achtziger, principal of Saguaro High School, said. "In the end, I know our Sabercats will come out ahead.”