SDSU football stays COVID-19 free during unorthodox season

KELOLAND.com Original

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — The SDSU football team finished the regular season with a 5-1 record, earning them the top-seed in the FCS playoffs. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment this season for the Jacks has been what they’ve been able to do off the field.

In a football season full of uncertainty, one thing has been certain and that is negative COVID-19 test results from SDSU.

“Each guy making a commitment to do his part. When we travel, we are really, really organized and strict with where we sit,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We travel with four busses; I mean, our busses look like a ghost town because there are so few people on it.”

It starts with leadership for the Jackrabbits. Before the season even started, the senior leaders set their mission to stay COVID free.

“In the senior goals in January, the second goal was to be COVID-19 free and they were so focused on that concept and the importance of that, they made it one of their season goals,” Stiegelmeier said. “You’ll never see that in another season goals. You’ll see 1-0, you’ll see a national championship, you’ll see win all the home games and that stuff, which are kind of general, but this one was kind of specific for this year and this time. Again, I’ll give credit to the leadership of the football team.”

SDSU, so far, has turned in zero positive tests throughout the 2021 season.

“We need everybody, whether it’s scout team or the guys that get on the bus. We’ve had access to everybody, other than a couple injuries here and there, so it’s another reason to be proud of our football team,” Stiegelmeier said.

The Jacks are one of only four teams in the Missouri Valley to avoid a cancellation due to their own COVID-19 complications and accomplishing that feat took a commitment from every player.

“Like the Jackrabbit way says, team first, be a team first guy and then later on in the Jackrabbit way, it talks about family and love,” Stiegelmeier said. “Those things intersect with what you’re talking about, but I’m going to have that relationship where I’m going to sacrifice. I’m going to sacrifice for my team. Any team that has success, there is going to be sacrifices, with or without COVID, there is going to be guys who give up stuff and our guys are doing it.”

The FCS season now moves onto postseason play, but there won’t be any changes in the SDSU locker room.

“I think we’ll just continue doing what we’ve been doing. We’ve been at a very high level of just consciousness about what we’ve been doing as a team and stuff like that,” SDSU senior linebacker Preston Tetzlaff said.

SDSU will meet Holy Cross in the opening round of the FCS Playoffs on Saturday, April 24. Kick-off is set for 2:00 p.m. in Brookings.

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