LAKE STEVENS — The perennial powerhouse Lake Stevens High School football team’s first two games have been canceled as a result of its program being shut down for COVID-19 protocols after two players tested positive.
The Vikings have suspended team activities until Sept. 4, according to Lake Stevens School District spokesperson Jayme Taylor.
Lake Stevens was slated to open its season against a pair of KingCo 4A powers, with non-league showdowns against Eastlake on Sept. 3 and Mount Si on Sept. 10.
The Eastlake game was canceled because it occurs during the program shutdown. The Mount Si game was canceled because the Vikings won’t have accumulated enough practices by then, according to Lake Stevens athletic director Jason Pearson. Per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules, football players need to participate in 12 practices before they are eligible to play in games.
The decision to suspend team activities was made collaboratively Tuesday between administrators for Lake Stevens School District, Lake Stevens High School and Cavelero Mid High School, according to Taylor. The school district was in communication with the Snohomish Health District.
“We didn’t recommend a pause on practice or games, but all unvaccinated close contacts will be required to quarantine for 14 days,” Snohomish Health District spokesperson Heather Thomas said. “If the team doesn’t have enough players or staff, then it’s an operational decision to cancel on their part.
“Our staff have been working closely with the school district and they have been complying with all public health measures.”
Taylor said in this particular situation they weren’t able to use contact tracing to limit close contacts to a smaller group of individuals.
“Because of the nature of the sport and everyone (being) in such close contact, we notified the whole team,” Taylor said. “Typically, if it’s a smaller group, we can kind of do some contact tracing. But because these players were on both (junior varsity) and varsity, they likely had contact with the team (at large).”
Fully vaccinated players with no COVID-19 symptoms could’ve continued to practice based on the health guidelines, Taylor said. But she said that because football is such a “position-based sport,” the Vikings wouldn’t have been left with a “balanced team” after accounting for players who had to quarantine.
That led to the decision to suspend all training and workouts until the scheduled resumption of practice on Sept. 4.
“We don’t have enough eligible players and coaches to hold practices,” Taylor said.
The shutdown wipes out a pair of high-profile matchups for seven-time defending Wesco 4A champion Lake Stevens, which had scheduled a tough non-league slate to test itself outside of a conference it has dominated for years.
Eastlake is a regular Class 4A state contender, having reached the state playoffs in seven of the past 10 full-length seasons. And the game against Mount Si would’ve been a rematch from the 2019 4A state quarterfinals, when the Wildcats handed the Vikings a heartbreaking 24-22 season-ending loss.
Lake Stevens is now scheduled to open its season against 3A state powerhouse O’Dea on Sept. 17 at Memorial Stadium in Seattle. O’Dea has played in four consecutive 3A state title games and won a state championship in 2017.
The Vikings close their non-league slate against Archbishop Murphy and Snohomish before opening Wesco 4A play against Mariner on Oct. 8.
Over the past decade, Lake Stevens has been one of the top 4A programs in the state. The Vikings have advanced to eight of the past nine 4A state playoffs — including five trips to the state quarterfinals, three to the state semifinals and a state championship game appearance in 2018.
After rolling to a dominant 5-0 campaign during this past spring’s abbreviated season, Lake Stevens is expected to once again be a 4A state title contender this fall.
Reporter Joseph Thompson contributed to this report.