Players get rapid COVID-19 tests to get back on the gridiron

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ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — After more than a month without a game, football teams took a step to get back on the field.

Rapid antigen testing got underway, as required by a recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services epidemic order.

At Rockford High School, Rams players stared at their phones while they waited for the results of their tests, which took about 15 minutes to run.

“Pretty scary and nerve-racking but that negative test is a good feeling,” senior defensive lineman Alex Karas said.

More than 100 members of the team took the test. They all came back negative. 

Players and coaches will have to take the test three times per week; once every two days. Individuals who test negative will get practice and play. 

“Positive test sends them to their family doctor for more in-depth tests,” explained Rockford’s first-year head coach Brent Cummings.

Those who test positive again would then have to quarantine for 10 to 14 days. 

“We’ll take the-next-man-up mentality. We’ll shuffle guys around if we have to,” Cummings said.

“We’ve come this far. This group is resilient,” he added. “We’ll do what we need to do to have the best chance possible to play.”

A Rockford football player swabs his nose for a rapid coronavirus test so he can get back on the gridiron. (Dec. 30, 2020)

Rockford will play Saline in the Division I regional final on Saturday, Jan. 9. 

Testing is only one of the obstacles the Rams face, with weather also a factor. A traditional football season wraps up on Thanksgiving weekend. If Rockford makes it to the state final, they could be playing until late January. 

“I can’t wait,” senior wide receiver and defensive back Luke McLean said. “Hopefully there’s snow on the ground to make it really interesting.”

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