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Utah high school football coach offers lessons learned from 14-0 season during COVID-19

A football on the field.
Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon High went 14-0 this season during the COVID-19 pandemic with only one positive test.
(Getty Images)

Utah allowed high school football to be played this fall, with Corner Canyon High in Draper going 14-0 and making it through the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed. I asked coach Eric Kjar if he had any lessons learned to pass on to California coaches still waiting for the chance to play their delayed season in 2021.

“It was definitely tough,” he said. “There was a lot of balance between school stuff with kids online. It actually helped us with quarantining and keeping them away from getting it. We really pushed to have the kids stay away from people as much as we could during the season. Our kids wanted to play real bad and focused on that.”

Kjar said some 95 players, coaches and managers were tested during the final two weeks of the season. There was one positive test. He said his players had motivation to follow safety rules and avoid social gatherings in order to complete the season.

“There’s a risk for sure, but many benefits are invaluable,” he said of playing high school sports. “The kids need something. It helped our school community having something. The positives outweigh some of the negatives, especially if you do your best wearing masks and some of the testing policies. I get the concerns passing it on to people more at risk. We talked about staying away from older relatives and at-risk relatives.”

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Draper, which has a population of 48,000, is 20 miles from Salt Lake City. The school has a student body of 2,300. Quarterback Jaxson Dart became a star recruit because of his outstanding season, with USC and UCLA offering scholarships.

“It was a perfect storm for him,” Kjar said. “Nobody else was playing, and he got a lot of exposure. His recruiting process took off.”

High school sports competitions set to begin in December seem unlikely to happen unless the coronavirus surge across Los Angeles County ends soon.

Dart now must make a final recruiting decision in the next couple of weeks because he’s graduating in January.

With their football season over, Utah is allowing basketball to be played indoors but without fans. Players are beginning to ski again. Kjar is a little concerned that, without football, his players might let their guard down.

Having a sports season “helps them have discipline,” he said.


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