High school football nearing playoff weekend

The regional playoffs will finally begin Jan. 9 with rapid COVID-19 testing program
Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 6:38 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - High school football teams across the state of Michigan are preparing this week for the regional finals.

“The main thing we’re trying to do is just stay positive with how things have been going and the kids are working hard,” said Lansing Catholic head coach Jim Ahern. “That’s all we can ask of them.”

Teams have a lot to fight for this week: getting negative COVID-19 test results, and playing well this coming weekend.

“It’s different. This whole year has been different,” said Ahern. “It’s hard to compare it to anything we’ve ever had because we’ve never had anything like this.”

With such an unknown season, there’s finally clarity. Thanks to a coronavirus rapid testing pilot program, these teams are finally able to complete their seasons amid the pandemic. Testing started last week, and so far things have been going well.

“The kids are taking it in stride. I mean they’re resilient kids, they have to be. This whole year based on all the craziness,” said Williamston head coach Steve Kersten. “We’re testing, we’re doing well so far, and kids are out here practicing in January. It’s beautiful.”

Testing is taking about an hour to complete for all players and coaches. Practices are being held partially inside for conditioning, and outside in the snow. Games will be played outdoors as well, which is way outside the norm of a usual fall season.

“It’s really funny. I think the temperature in our game Saturday is supposed to be in the mid-thirties. We’ve played in a lot colder weather than that during the regular season,” said Ahern. “I mean, it’s not the ideal where you’d have the perfect weather, but if it’s not windy, it’ll be fine.”

The common theme among both teams is the toughness and pride they both carry, cooperating with the COVID-19 testing each week, trying to create a bubble for themselves, and playing well in the semi-finals.

“We’ll start to feel some jitters and say wow this is it, this is happening, we’re really going to play this game,” said Kersten. “I think our motto going forward is just resiliency. I mean it’s just like ‘hey, whatever comes, we’ll take it on and we’re ready to go.’”

DeWitt has a bye due to their opponent, Stevensville Lakeshore, forfeiting. Williamston, Lansing Catholic, and East Lansing all play this Saturday, Jan. 9 at 1 p.m. on their home turf.

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