The Mason City football program has been shut down for two weeks due to members of the coaching staff being exposed to COVID-19, the school district has confirmed.
The Mason City School District confirmed the news on Tuesday afternoon.
"This week and next week's football games are canceled due to COVID exposure of varsity coaching staff," a district statement said. "No varsity practice today.
1. All coaches exposed are following quarantine protocols set by public health.
2. To our knowledge, no varsity players were exposed.
3. Important for players to continue to monitor their health daily.
4. Football questions, continue to contact your coaches.
5. COVID related questions should be directed to the Superintendent's office- 641-450-5001.
Additional information will be provided players by the end of the week", according to the statement.
The news means that the Mohawks will miss both of their first two scheduled home games. Mason City was set to take on Fort Dodge this Friday, and Gilbert on Sept. 11.
"We're going to shut down for two weeks," Mason City head football coach John Lee said. "We'll regroup, and be back on the 11th. The next home game will be homecoming on the 18th, so we can get back on that Monday."
The timing of the news is particularly painful for the team, as they are fresh off a dominant 28-0 opening-game victory over Marshalltown. The Mohawks received three top-10 votes this week in the Associated Press Class 3A Iowa Prep Football Poll.
"It sucks," junior wide receiver Carter Thomas said. "I was really looking forward to playing (Fort) Dodge this week."
Since no varsity players have been exposed, the team does not have to quarantine, and is still allowed to attend school.
"The coaches said that we are going to do some football things over the next two weeks to stay in 'football shape,' but I don't think we can have practices," Thomas said.
The Mohawks' next home game will come against Boone on Sept. 18. Due to the already shortened, seven-game schedule, the two missed games means that Mason City will play only two regular-season home games in 2020.
"I think we are all a little upset, rightfully so," senior offensive lineman Ben Pederson said. "We would have loved to build off of last week with another big win Friday, but unfortunately that won't happen. I know as a whole everyone is eager to get out on the field and play football again, taking whatever steps are in place."
Mason City is the second known area team to experience a COVID-19 related game cancellation. Last week, Belmond-Klemme axed its opener against West Fork after team members tested positive for the virus.
As of Monday, Cerro Gordo County has 835 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at Shane.Lantz@GlobeGazette.com, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz.
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