WENTZVILLE, Mo. — On Friday, the Francis Howell Central varsity football team will return to the field for its first game in one month.
The 2-2 Spartans will face the 5-1 Holt Indians, who have only lost to the Francis Howell Vikings.
On Sept. 19, one varsity football player at Francis Howell Central developed symptoms for COVID-19 following the previous night’s game and tested positive for the virus.
The school and St. Charles County Health Department worked together to contact trace, which resulted in the quarantine of 16 players on the varsity and junior varsity football teams.
“Before the season started we even talked about, like, ‘This is a possibility guys,’” Francis Howell Central varsity head football coach Pete Eberhardt said. “Like it’s not what we want, but we need to know if it happens, we just have to deal with it and move on. We can’t be like, ‘Oh, our season’s over.’ Because we still have games to play. So we still need to stay focused.”
Players were required to quarantine even if they did not test positive for the virus.
The Spartans continued practicing with roughly 25 players. The team was scheduled to return for a game on Oct. 3, but that was canceled after another five players tested positive for the virus.
All players have safely healed from the virus and have returned to full health after completing their quarantine period.
This week the team held its first week of full practices after a couple of players opted out of the season following the COVID-19 outbreak. It is the first week in a month that both the varsity and junior varsity teams have enough players to compete.
Eberhardt said the Spartans spent the week conditioning after weeks without access to workout equipment during quarantine.
The Spartans will be led by senior starting quarterback Parker Frye.
Meanwhile, the Holt Indians have not had a COVID-19 outbreak this season and are well on their way to one of their best regular season records in program history.
Surprisingly, the Indians only have three starting seniors on the field each Friday night. The majority of starters are juniors and sophomores.
Holt junior quarterback Cooper Brown has been the backbone. Cooper is ranked second in mid-Missouri in passing leaders with 1,602 total passing yards.
The Indians are also led by junior standout Jackson Smith. The wide receiver is ranked sixth in scoring leaders in mid-Missouri with his 14 touchdowns in six games.
The varsity team has rallied behind and fought for Holt's strength and conditioning coach Aaron Smith, who suffered a stroke earlier this month.
Holt head coach Ethan Place said Smith has prepared and motivated this team to be what it is.
Place added that this team may have a young core, but it’s their desire to compete that makes all the difference in 2020.
“They’re competitors,” Place said. “They compete at all levels, and they work extremely hard. They don’t miss weights, they don’t miss practice, they’ve been doing this for a number of years. So just the overall competitive nature.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Holt High School.