CLARKSTON — “Bewildered.”

Everest Collegiate athletic director Ann Lowney says that’s the best word to describe her state of mind as the final chapter of high school fall sports in Michigan can resume.

Football had three weeks left in its season, girls volleyball a week, and girls swimming two days when, on Nov. 15, the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced a suspension of practices and competitions per the emergency order to pause activity issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The MHSAA announced a resumption of practices for Dec. 21.

Athletes barely worked up a sweat because the next day the MHSAA issued another suspension after receiving full details and requirements for a pilot rapid-testing program being provided by the health department.

The testing program decrees that athletes, coaches and other team personnel directly involved in practice and competition must be tested three times per week using BinaxNOW antigen tests that produce results within 15 minutes. 

Teams and individuals must complete one round of negative COVID-19 tests before beginning practice. 

On the day after Christmas, the MHSAA announced that football could begin two days of outdoor, non-contact conditioning and drills, wearing helmets and shoulder pads with physical distancing on Monday, Dec. 28, in advance of the first round of testing Dec. 30.

Volleyball and girls swimming will restart their drives for a state championship Monday, Jan. 4.

Lowney said Everest passed its first round of tests Wednesday, Dec. 30, and will test on an every-other-day schedule before taking the field on Saturday, Jan. 9, against Petersburg Summerfield (5-4).

Anyone who tests positive will have to go into quarantine and not be allowed to participate until retested negative.

The 9-0 Mountaineers have enjoyed home field advantage in the playoffs but will trade it for indoor comfort safe from the elements at the Legacy Center in Brighton.

Lowney said, “blessed by a generous benefactor,” the squad will be practicing indoors, too, at Oakland Yard facility in Waterford.

“A lot of parents are not happy” about the testing protocol, Lowney said, nor about the MHSAA restriction that spectators will not be allowed for any of the competitions.

“So,” she said, “mom and dad can go bowling or go to a movie or gamble at a casino, but they can’t go and watch their kids play. I’m bewildered. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Nine Catholic League teams are still in the hunt for a state championship.

Football regional finals

In Division 1, Novi Detroit Catholic Central (9-0) vs. defending champion Davison (9-0), at Lapeer High School, 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9.

In Division 2, Warren De La Salle (5-4) at Warren Mott (7-1), 12 noon, Saturday, Jan. 9.

In Division 7, Detroit Loyola (7-1) vs. New Lothrop (8-0), at Madison Heights Bishop Foley Ventures Field, 12 noon, Saturday, Jan. 9.

In Division 8, Clarkston Everest Collegiate (9-0) vs. Petersburg Summerfield (5-4), at Brighton Legacy Center, 6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 9.

Semi-finals will be played Jan. 16 and the finals Jan. 22-23.

Volleyball quarterfinals

The quarterfinals will be played on Tuesday, Jan. 12. The sites and times are yet to be determined.

In Division 1, Bloomfield Hills Marian, who knocked out defending champ Farmington Hills Mercy, will play Macomb Dakota.

In Division 2, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, a finalist a year ago, will meet Catholic League champion Warren Regina. Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard will play Lake Odessa Lakewood.

In Division 3, Royal Oak Shrine will come up against Saginaw Valley Lutheran.

Semi-finals will be played Jan. 14-15 and finals on Saturday, Jan. 16. The final two rounds will be played at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.

Swimming & diving finals

Three Lower Peninsula Finals will be conducted Friday, Jan. 15 (diving), and Saturday, Jan. 16 (swimming).

Farmington Mercy, coached by Mike Venos, will be seeking its fourth consecutive Division 1 championship in finals held at Hudsonville High School.

Division 2 finals will be conducted at Grand Rapids Northview High School, and Division 3, where Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood was runner-up the last two years, will be staged at Lake Orion High School.

AD Hassler leaves Bishop Foley

Brian Hassler, athletic director for five years and trainer for 18 at Madison Heights Bishop Foley, accepted the athletic director position at Rochester Adams on Nov. 16.

“It (the vacancy) just sort of popped up and I looked into it,” he said. “It will be a challenge. Adams has 1,600 students, Foley 300. I was blessed to be at Foley. But also blessed for this opportunity.”

Tony DeMare, former athletic director and head baseball coach for 17 years at Dearborn Divine Child, succeeds Hassler. DeMare coached Divine Child baseball to Class B state championships in 2004-05-08-10.

The Catholic League celebrated him as “Person of the Year” at its annual Hall of Fame banquet in 2016.

Contact Don Horkey at dhorkey@wowway.com.