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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Chattanooga Christian head coach Mark Mariakis watches the action. The Chattanooga Christian Chargers hosted the Christian Academy of Knoxville Warriors in TSSAA football on September 25, 2020.

Due to COVID-19 issues within the general student population at Chattanooga Christian, the Division II-AA football playoff quarterfinal game at Christ Presbyterian Academy has been canceled.

The Hamilton County Health Department recommended CCS close its entire on-campus operation for 14 days, which includes all extracurricular activities, ending the Chargers season.

"We're all devastated," school president Chad Dirkse said. "I'm completely crushed for those kids on the team. We saw some increases in cases last Friday and knew we had some significant issues with the number of students being quarantined. The Hamilton County Health Department strongly advised, due to community spread on campus — mostly in the high school — to cancel on-campus learning for 14 days to prevent further spread.

"I want to be clear that the football team had done it's work. It isn't because of anything those guys did. It's because of the numbers school-wide that the football team was caught up in the decision. I'm not debating the reasoning for the decision, I'm just crushed for the kids."

With Thanksgiving break approaching, the school — kindergarten through 12th grade — will remain closed until after the holiday.

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Mark Mariakis is CCS's head coach. The Chattanooga Christian School Chargers hosted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a TSSAA rivalry game on October 19, 2018

The Chargers finish their season with an overall record of 5-3, having gone on the road last week to defeat Knoxville Grace 56-42 to advance. It was their second road win over Grace this season. CCS was looking to avenge last year's quarterfinal loss at third-ranked CPA, which now advances to the semifinals with a forfeit win.

"We took the team outside to inform them and that was the toughest thing I've ever had to do," Chargers coach Mark Mariakis said. "We have 12 seniors whose season and high school career ends like that. Usually when you're in this situation it comes after you just got beat in a game. But with this there's no closure for them.

"We felt really good about our team and how we were playing going into this game. Our kids really wanted to prove something but now they won't get the chance.

"It was never going to be one kid's fault, it's COVID's fault. But I'm thankful it wasn't on one kid's shoulders to have that burden of being the one who tested positive and felt he was to blame for having the team's season ended."

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

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