MESQUITE - Mesquite ISD went out of its way to make sure football players showed up for Thursday night’s game, blanketing the district with e-mails and automated phone calls.
The toughest decision of tonight’s game, however, came well before the coin toss.
West Mesquite football players knew they would be playing Ennis, the district where hundreds of high school students are being tested for tuberculosis, and at least four active cases are suspected.
Head Coach Mike Overton recalled their biggest fear.
“They felt like if they came in contact with someone who’s been exposed to tuberculosis, they’re automatically going to get it, and I think the whole process is an education process,” Overton said.
The teams avoided close proximity before and during the game, when possible.
“There are certain times during the game where the teams would be together, interacting, but we’re just going to keep those to a minimum,” said MISD spokesman Laura Jobe.
Before the game, an automated call went out to students families.
It said, in part, “The state health department confirms there is no risk to Mesquite students of contracting TB through athletic competition.”
Overton said parents were given the option to keep their sons out of the game. They all came.
But, as Winona Brent watched her son play, she worried.
“It did worry me, because he got a scratch and it was open, and so I didn’t know if they could get it that way as well, touching someone else with their sweat, but they covered it up,” Brent said.
Health officials say TB cannot be contracted through sweat or saliva.
Overton said his players showed no reluctance to touch and tackle the Lions.
When the clock wound down, however, it was Ennis that won, 6-0.
Mesquite said visiting teams bring their own equipment, so shared towels and water was not an issue. According to Overton, the locker room used by Ennis will receive no special treatment, above the standard cleaning by custodians.