WASHINGTON, NJ - Amid concerns that upwards of 20 of its players were displaying symptoms of mononucleosis, the Warren Hills High School Football Team made the decision to cancel its game versus Summit Friday Night. The Hilltoppers were awarded a victory, by forfeit, with the score anticipated to be 2-0.

According to cdc.gov:

 "Infectious mononucleosis, also called “mono,” is a contagious disease. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis, but other viruses can also cause this disease. It is common among teenagers and young adults, especially college students. At least one out of four teenagers and young adults who get infected with EBV will develop infectious mononucleosis."

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Symptoms include:

  • extreme fatigue
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • head and body aches
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits
  • swollen liver or spleen or both
  • rash

Enlarged spleen and a swollen liver are less common symptoms. For some people, their liver or spleen or both may remain enlarged even after their fatigue ends.

Most people get better in two to four weeks; however, some people may feel fatigued for several more weeks. Occasionally, the symptoms of infectious mononucleosis can last for six months or longer. EBV is the most common cause of infectious mononucleosis, but other viruses can cause this disease. Typically, these viruses spread most commonly through bodily fluids, especially saliva."

In a surreal scene, the teams concluded their pre-game warm-ups and went back to their locker rooms. Then, Warren Hills conducted their 'Senior Night' festivities, honoring myriad Class of 2020 members of its marching band, cheerleading squad and football team. Following that ceremony, which had already delayed the start of the game by ten minutes past its 7 p.m. kick-off time, there was a confusing period lasting nearly another ten minutes in which the referees -- who normally are at the door of the locker room to escort the teams on the field -- were nowhere to be found outside the Summit locker room.

Hilltopper Head Coach Kevin Kostibos could be seen on the sidelines engaged in a conversation with Summit High School Director of Athletics Dan Healy. Following that talk, Kostibos returned to the locker room and informed his team that two Blue Streaks players had been diagnosed with mononucleosis and that as many as 20 others were showing symptoms of the illness. Given that, and out of concern for player safety, the game was no longer going to be played and that they were returning home.

Unsaid during the confusion and conversation was the deeply sobering reality and indelible memory that, just over four years ago, Warren Hills quarterback Evan Murray had passed away from massive intra-abdominal hemorrhage -- or massive internal bleeding -- due to a laceration of his spleen that occurred a game between the very same two teams, on the very same field.

For their part, both Kostibos and Healy were unanimous in their agreement that the correct decision -- in their minds the only decision that could be rationally made -- had been made.

"I wholeheartedly support the decision," said Kostibos. "Naturally, we are disappointed that we weren't able to play tonight, but player safety is at the forefront of every decision we make in our sport. We feel badly for their kids and, for us, it is get back on the bus, go home and get ready to play Voorhees next Friday night at home."

Healy added, "I know it is a very long drive to get here, but I would gladly drive twice and far to guarantee player safety."

Summit, now 5-1, will next face Voorhees October 25 in the traditional 'Friday Night Lights' game at Tatlock Park. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.