RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Friday night’s game at Sanderson High School in Raleigh had the energy as if it was the first game of the season.
It wasn’t the first of the year for the Spartans, but it was their first at home even though the season is about a month old.
“It has been pretty tough, but I think the kids are handling it well. They had some setbacks, but they are trying to bounce back,” said James Matthews.
Matthews’s son plays wide receiver on the team.
The Spartans missed their first two games because of a COVID-19. It compromised not only the season, but also health.
“A couple of weeks ago I was in the hospital bed with COVID, pneumonia. But, I mean, all things considered, I’m probably about 80 percent,” said head coach Jeremy Buck.
Friday was Buck’s first game on the sideline. The week before, he was in the press box but eventually made his way down to the field.
“I turned around and she [Buck’s wife] actually had my oxygen tank over there in case I needed it,” he said.
However, Friday, the team was missing one of its own.
“So, we do have a kid that had a setback with COVID. We are all praying for him and his family. Every game is for him right now,” Matthews said.
Matthews said the player with the setback is the Spartans’ quarterback. The get-well-soon signs hanging in the stadium Friday night were for him.
As Sanderson, along with other schools across central North Carolina, continues to navigate the pandemic, Buck said he’s just thankful to have community support and to be back coaching.
“My wife put it so eloquently. There are two types of medicine. One you get from your doctor and the one that is good for the soul. Being on the grass with my guys, that’s that extra medicine that is helping me recover even quicker,” Buck said.
Wake County Public Schools is not commenting on the player’s condition.
According to the WCPSS dashboard, there were more than 300 pending or confirmed COVID-19 cases reported this week.
Sanderson is listed twice. Since Aug. 1, the school has had 37 pending or confirmed cases.