Cal football player tests positive for coronavirus, putting Pac-12 opener against Washington in jeopardy

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In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, California head coach Justin Wilcox reacts on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against UCLA in Pasadena, Calif. As Wilcox looks to navigate a season like none other, he can at least lean on a quarterback who has endured his share of trials winning the job. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

In this Nov. 30, 2019, file photo, California head coach Justin Wilcox reacts on the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against UCLA in Pasadena, Calif. As Wilcox looks to navigate a season like none other, he can at least lean on a quarterback who has endured his share of trials winning the job. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

California’s season-opening game Saturday night against Washington is in jeopardy following a positive coronavirus test Wednesday on the Golden Bears that has caused what coach Justin Wilcox said is a “significant” number of players needing contact tracing.

Wilcox said Cal’s athletic department was in contact with Washington officials Wednesday night about the game scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. PST kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

When asked whether the game could be postponed, Wilcox said, “That’s fair.”

“If it is feasible for us to play we are going to play the game,” Wilcox said on a Zoom call. “Are there hurdles? There are hurdles, yes. With the players in question the game is in jeopardy. If we have the bodies available to play the game we will play the game. Several people are being held out and that’s a legitimate threat to the game.”

Wednesday’s practice was limited and some team drills were not doable based on the number of players held out. Wilcox wouldn’t specify how many players were sidelined.

The player with a positive COVID-19 test is asymptomatic. He took his regular daily antigen test and then a supplemental PCR test, which also showed a positive result. This marked the first positive test on Cal’s football team since practices began last month.

“It’s a tricky situation as we all know. We are glad to report that the one positive is asymptomatic and everybody’s healthy. But the result of the contact tracing is significant,” Wilcox said. “We will hopefully learn in the short term where that leads us, but it’s a significant hurdle.”

Wilcox said he hoped to know later Wednesday or Thursday whether those players in contact tracing would be available to play Saturday.

“Hopefully very soon,” he said. “We’ll need to know shortly.”

As of Oct. 30, Cal had conducted 3,547 PCR tests since testing began June 4, resulting in 20 positive results.

Quarterback Chase Garbers called it “shocking” to learn a Cal player had the coronavirus.

“We still practiced today. The team morale right when we came out to practice was high,” Garbers said. “The game plan’s still intact. If we can play on Saturday, we’ll be ready and we’re looking forward to it.”

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