Wallace-Rose Hill COVID cluster puts state football title game in jeopardy

The Bulldogs are scheduled to play Shelby for the 2A title on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium

Wallace-Rose Hill is seeking its first state championship since defeating Reidsville 35-28 in overtime in 2017. (Brett Friedlander / North State Journal)

The Wallace-Rose Hill football team is scheduled to play Shelby for the 2A state championship Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

But the Bulldogs’ participation in the game is suddenly in doubt. At the very least, they will be shorthanded as they seek their first state title since 2017 now that at least three players have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We have been made aware of positive COVID tests for Wallace-Rose Hill’s football team and the NCHSAA is in regular communication with Wallace-Rose Hill administrators to monitor the situation,” North Carolina High School Athletic Association executive director Que Tucker said in a statement addressing the situation. “At this time there are no plans to postpone or delay the 2A state championship between Wallace-Rose Hill and Shelby scheduled for Saturday.”

According to a report by WCTI TV in Greenville, Duplin County Health Director Tracey Simmons-Kornegay is investigating the origin of the COVID cluster and is closely monitoring the situation to determine if any other team members or coaches contract the illness.

Measures are also being taken to prevent further spread, including the wearing of masks during practice and other team functions. It has also been recommended that players and staff members get rapid COVID tests Friday morning. No one that tests positive will be allowed to make the trip to Raleigh for Saturday’s game.

Wallace-Rose Hill coach Kevin Motsinger, athletic director Corey Lovelace and principal Tim Jenkins have all declined comment.

“As they have been doing, school officials will continue to work with the Duplin County Health Department to determine the best course of action for their student-athletes and community to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the NCHSAA’s Tucker said. “We hope that there are not more positive tests and are praying for the speedy recovery of those individuals who have already tested positive.”

The 2A game between Wallace-Rose Hill and Shelby is one of four state championship games to be contested this weekend. 

Cardinal Gibbons takes on Charlotte Chambers in the 4A game Saturday at 7 p.m. at Carter-Finley Stadium. At Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, J.H. Rose of Greenville meets Greensboro Dudley for the 3A title on Friday at 7 p.m., and Tarboro plays Mitchell County for the 1A crown at noon on Saturday.