McCallie football team halts practice after positive COVID-19 tests

Staff file photo / McCallie football coach Ralph Potter's team will not return to practice before Aug. 21 after at least 11 players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The McCallie School football team has halted its contact practices after having at least 11 players test positive for COVID-19. All team activities are postponed for a 14-day quarantine period.

"We are concerned with many of our guys testing positive, and we want to do whatever we can to have a great season and limit the spread of this virus," Blue Tornado coach Ralph Potter said Sunday night. "We will continue to work with our guys online and be ready for the challenges of the season ahead."

Headmaster Lee Burns addressed the situation in a post on the school's website: "Our coaches, team physician, Health Center Director and others have been in close contact with the Hamilton County Health Department and, based on their advice, we have taken the following action: Varsity football practices have been cancelled for a 14-day period. All players, coaches and trainers will undergo a strict quarantine for those 14 days - stricter than the already strict self-quarantine that we are requiring of all students. They will not be allowed on campus until those 14 days expire and they are certified by a medical doctor to be free of COVID-19. The students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will undergo 10 days of isolation."

The Blue Tornado will return to practice on Aug. 21 and are now scheduled to open the season at Knoxville's Webb School on Aug. 28.

In an unrelated decision, McCallie's season opener against Chattanooga Christian School was canceled. CCS administrators opted not to play that game in order to have students on campus for a full week before allowing football season to begin. The Chargers reworked the first four weeks of their schedule, also canceling other nonregion games at Whitwell on Sept. 4 and against Lakeway Christian on Sept. 11, and moving their home game against Baylor to Sept. 4.

"We had decided not to play the first two weeks just to allow our school to be in session before we begin the season," CCS athletic director Daniel Russell said. "It had nothing to do with McCallie's situation. We were going to try to reschedule that game, but we couldn't work it out on both our ends as far as having the same open dates to play."

Contact Stephen Hargis at or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.