As high schools and their athletic department get ready to ramp up workouts into Phase 4 of the IHSA’s plan to get back into games this fall, Du Quoin’s school system is hitting the pause button.
Athletic director/football coach Derek Beard confirmed Monday that an athlete tested positive for COVID-19, the pandemic that has largely defined life around the world for four months, over the weekend.
“We had older kids in town that tested positive,” Beard said. “We had an athlete in town who had been around those people, and he got tested on Tuesday. We found out over the weekend that he tested positive.”
As a result, the school district canceled all workouts this week. They will reevaluate at week’s end whether it’s safe to proceed with conditioning and sport-specific drills next week.
The news comes just days after the IHSA received approval from the Illinois Department of Public Health to move into its version of Phase 4. That allows athletes and coaches to practice in a way that reflects a sport’s specialties, while giving coaches 20 contact days with their players prior to the official start of fall sports practice on August 10.
For instance, that means a football team can work on its plays. It means that basketball teams can schedule summer camps and games if they desire. It merely requires approval from a school district’s board.
Most coaches and administrators spoke of moving forward over the weekend after the IHSA moved into Phase 4. For at least this week, Du Quoin will operate in the same state of limbo in which everyone spent the spring.
“We’re just trying to keep students’ safety at the front, and our coaches as well,” Beard said. “Nobody would love to be practicing football with the kids more than me, but player safety has to be the No. 1 priority.
“We decided to be on the precautionary side of things.”
Beard said he would meet with other administrators and school officials later in the week to determine whether athletes can resume practice next week.
JUNGE HIRED AT MURPHYSBORO: For its third volleyball coach in as many years, Murphysboro hired former Red Devil Ally Junge.
A 2010 Murphysboro graduate, Junge aims to provide stability for a program that enjoyed it for most of the last two decades under Mike Layne. He went 519-192-4 over 20 years before stepping down in April 2019. Layne was an assistant under Ed Allen at SIU last year.
Long-time assistant coach Apryl Gordon ran the team last year, going 16-11. The Red Devils figure to contend this year in SIRR Ohio, although defending champion Massac County returns enough experience to wear the favorite’s role.
THE LAST CALL: Southern Illinois sports fans took a moment or two Monday to mourn the passing of one of the top multi-sport officials of recent vintage.
Eldorado’s Roger Grumley, 55, died after a recent illness. Grumley retired in 2013 after earning state finals assignments in two sports— basketball and football. He worked the 2004-05 Class A title games in boys basketball and worked on an area crew that handled the 2008 Class 1A championship contest.
Herrin boys basketball coach Sayler Shurtz took to Twitter to pay homage to Grumley, who played for current Massac County coach Joe Hosman at Eldorado in the early 1980s.
“Very kind and genuine guy,” Shurtz said. “Always made time to talk to me as a player and a coach. Will miss our conversations.”
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