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SPECIAL REPORT: Playing in the pandemic

News 11's Rob Fram explains how Yuma Catholic football is coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic.

YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - Yuma Catholic football "thrives" on uncertainty.

When Coach Rhett Stallworth took over the program back in 2007, no one would have predicted the Shamrocks becoming a perennial area power, claiming 3 state championships within a decade.

But last March, an unprecedented level of uncertainty arrived.

The Coronavirus Pandemic forced a paradigm shift in everyday life.

Every school in our area, including Yuma Catholic had to cope with campus closures and remote learning.

It wasn't until the Summer months that the Rocks could start taking the field again on a limited basis.

AS COVID cases climbed last Summer, the Shamrocks faced the lingering possibility of a cancelled season.

“We work so hard, and just not knowing if we can get the chance to play. It was, it was hard. It was scary.”

Jonah Leon - Yuma Catholic wide receiver and defensive back

But the tide turned on September 2nd, when the Arizona Interscholastic Association announced the start of a condensed season in early October.

It proved to be the spark the Rocks needed to thrive once again on the field.

“To be able to one play and then to pull off victories, it was just double rewarding at the time. And we had an unproven team. They responded like veterans.”

Rhett Stallworth - Yuma Catholic Shamrocks head football coach

The Rocks succeeded with a lot of unproven young talent on both sides of the football, especially quarterback Richard Stallworth; who came into the pandemic with no varsity experience.

When the playoffs were set to start in mid-November, even with the top overall seed and an undefeated record; rising COVID numbers would renew questions about playing for another title.

But it wouldn't quench YC's resolve.

“Going into the playoffs wondering, are we really going to be allowed to finish this? And you know, our attitude was, ‘we're gonna treat it like we're gonna finish the season and then we're gonna go to the state championship and finish.’”

Rhett Stallworth - Yuma Catholic Shamrocks head football coach

Despite all other Fall prep sports ending early, even with the uncertainty of the pandemic, the Rocks succeeded in capturing home victories in the 1st 2 rounds of the playoffs, before defeating Pusch Ridge to get back to the state title game.

But, the quest for the program's 4th state championship would end in disappointment with a tough loss to Snowflake.

Despite falling short of their goal, the Rocks don't take for granted the challenges they faced and the season they got to play.

"I felt our team trusted our coaches a lot this year and that's what got us that far as, as far as we did.”

Richard Stallworth - Yuma Catholic Shamrocks quarterback

Just like playing in the pandemic itself, YC looks at the future as an opportunity to shine.

Local Sports / Special Reports / Sports

Rob Fram

Rob Fram rejoined the KYMA News Team in February 2010.

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