Gannon Arthur on Football and Covid-19

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It is October 1, a Friday night. Like many other fall Friday nights, high school football is being played across the nation. In many stadiums that night, it was just a regular high school football game. For Palmer Ridge, it was their biggest game so far: the homecoming game.

The stage is set, the undefeated Palmer Ridge Bears taking on the undefeated Montrose Indians. The stadium is packed to the brim, the student section decked out in safari attire. The “Friday Night Lights” illuminate the field while the players on each team warm up, the stadium is buzzing with excitement. From the star-studded offensive line, to one of the best wide receiving cores in all of Colorado high school football, to the defense that wreaks havoc for opposing teams, Palmer Ridge’s players are ready… except for one: Gannon Arthur (12).

The senior linebacker, captain, and team leader in sacks (5.5 sacks) sits up in the parking lot, looking into the stadium. He sits alone in his white jeep with the windows up, a mask on his face. It has been two and a half days since he had tested positive for Covid-19.

On the Sunday before, September 26, Arthur began showing symptoms, and he tested positive a few days later on September 29.

“From Sunday to Wednesday, they [Covid-19 symptoms] were not really severe. I just couldn’t really smell that well, had a runny nose, that kind of stuff,” Arthur said. “But, they got worse towards the weekend. That was when I was running a fever.”

For Gannon, this was his first time getting Covid-19.

“When I started having symptoms, I was like, ‘am I really going to miss school and stuff because of Covid’? I got tested and I tested positive. At that point, I was like, ‘ah that’s my homecoming. This sucks.'”

Despite being upset with the fact that he was going to miss all of his senior year homecoming festivities, Arthur was more worried about protecting others.

“I was more worried about prevention. So, like, making sure my family doesn’t get sick, making sure that I didn’t come in contact with other people,” Arthur told The Bear Truth. “I didn’t want to get anyone else sick.”

While Arthur was quarantining, staying out of close contact with others, he tried to stay entertained. Unfortunately, the symptoms were too overwhelming. “I watched a lot of TV because anytime I got up and walked around, I would get very lightheaded. I would be very nauseous and I couldn’t really do much,” said Arthur.

Despite being absent from school for over a week, the school did not make Arthur do any school work while he was sick. Although, this did not matter.

“The mental fog with Covid is no freaking joke,” Arthur said. “In hindsight, I couldn’t have gotten anything done. I couldn’t think straight or anything.”

Arthur has gotten caught up with his makeup work since then.

Gannon Arthur walks onto the field with his teammates in preparation for the coin flip in a game in August. Pictured from left to right: Anthony Costanzo (12), Tony Cocozziello-Perez (12), Gannon Arthur (12), Connor Jones (12). Palmer Ridge beat Pueblo East 49-14 on Thursday, August 28. All pictures provided by Gannon Arthur.

Besides just missing school, Arthur missed all the homecoming festivities. The main events: the annual powderpuff game, the homecoming football game against Montrose, and, the main event, the homecoming dance.

“I was a powderpuff coach. I missed that game. I missed our homecoming football game. I missed our homecoming assembly. I missed homecoming itself.”

For Arthur, the homecoming football game was, by far, the hardest event to miss. The other events were more of an after thought to him.

“They [Montrose] were most likely the toughest opponents we will face this season. So, I was like ‘oh shoot, I really have to let my teammates play by themselves.’ I felt like I couldn’t do anything to help,” Arthur said. “I wanted more than anything just to be out there and play. They needed help. I wanted to help. But, I couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything and it sucked. I was extremely angry.”

For Arthur, he wishes this whole thing could have been avoided. Since the vaccine has been available, he has wanted to get vaccinated, but his parents wouldn’t let him. Just four days prior to receiving his positive test, Arthur had brought up the idea of getting vaccinated with his parents, again.

“I tried [to get vaccinated], I talked to my mom about it. I wanted to get to get vaccinated. My parents aren’t vaccinated, they didn’t want to do that. But, I told them I wanted to get vaccinated. Then, four days later, I tested positive.”

As far as people deciding to get vaccinated or not, Arthur thinks it should be a choice. But, Arthur “highly recommends” getting the vaccine for anybody who is still deciding.

Not only does Arthur strongly recommend the vaccine, he wishes COVID-19 protocols were more strict in the schools, as well as El Paso County. “There should be more [rules]. I was sitting next to a kid for an hour and a half, then I tested positive for COVID. I think he should have to provide a negative test to be allowed back in class.”

“In Monument, there are lot of elderly people. So, I feel like in order to protect the general population, some of the rules should be stricter,” said Arthur.

Arthur also described how he wishes El Paso County would have more precautions, such as providing a vaccination card to not wear a mask.

“I feel like if we take the proper precautions, we won’t have to in the future. It sucks being sick. If I could have taken more preventative measures before getting sick, I would have.”

In the future, Arthur hopes that precautions are taken to leave COVID-19 in the past. In the meantime, Arthur will be doing whatever he can to prevent himself as well as others from getting sick.

Gannon Arthur poses with his teammates for the camera. From left to right: Holden Wright (10), Gannon Arthur (12), Josh Gerlach (11). Palmer Ridge beat Heritage 48-14 on Friday night, October 22.

Since Arthur’s return to the field, the Palmer Ridge Bears have gone undefeated, winning the past four games by an average of 31 points, holding opponents to an average of 12.25 points per game. This past Friday, October 29, Arthur and the Palmer Ridge Bears took on the Vista Ridge Wolves, winning 41-0. The Bears are enjoying a first round bye after they got ranked as the number 4 team in the state tournament. The Bears will play the winner of the first round matchup, #13 Pueblo West against #20 Vista PEAK Prep.