GHSA decides to push the start of high school football back to Labor Day Weekend
From Staff Reports
THOMASTON, GA – The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) has made the decision to delay the start of the 2020 high school football season by two weeks due to concerns over the COVID-19 Pandemic. According to the association’s website, www.ghsa.net, this decision was made at a meeting of the GHSA’s Board of Trustees (BOT) on Monday, July 20.
The high school football season was originally scheduled to begin on Friday, August 21, but will now be pushed back to Friday, September 4, which is the beginning of Labor Day Weekend.
According to the minutes of the meeting, BOT member Steven Craft stated that it was clear that almost everybody wanted to play the fall schedule, but also stated that a delay of two weeks might be best for several school systems.
BOT member Jasper Jewell added that if the season was not pushed back two weeks, the Atlanta Public School System might be the first school system in the state to cancel fall sports completely. However, BOT member Kevin Petroski pointed out that delaying the season by two weeks would negatively impact smaller schools as far as winter sports are concerned. He stated that those smaller schools depend more on multi-sport athletes than do some larger schools.
There was a lengthy discussion amongst the BOT members about how schools would handle situations in which individuals tested positive for COVID-19. The BOT also discussed whether or not the other fall sports such as girls’ softball; girls’ flag football, volleyball and cross-country would also be pushed back by two weeks as well.
After that lengthy discussion, BOT member Jesse Crews made a motion to stay with the current GHSA calendar, which has high school football beginning on Friday, August 21. BOT member Michelle Masters seconded the motion. However, when the BOT voted, the motion failed by a vote of 8-4.
After further discussion, GHSA President Glenn White made a motion to move the start of the football season back by two weeks. BOT member Nathan Turner seconded the motion and the BOT voted unanimously to approve White’s motion to move the season back by two weeks.
White also stated that football summer conditioning would continue as scheduled, with mandatory football practice beginning on Monday, July 27.
According to the minutes of the meeting, White added that the first week of games would be played during the week of Friday, September 4 instead of the original plan to start the season on Friday, August 21. White also stated that teams will play a 10-game regular season schedule, followed by five rounds of playoff games.
As for all other GHSA fall sports, they will begin as scheduled on the current GHSA calendar.
Americus-Sumter High School (ASHS) Athletic Director Coleman Price told the Americus Times-Recorder that he is pleased overall with the GHSA’s decision to move football back by two weeks. “It’s a great idea. I believe based on the decision that was made today that it will give teams with some unknowns some time to get there teams ready,” said Price. “It also gives the GHSA an opportunity to put a plan together so that we’d get correct guidance across the board for all school districts that are participating in football. I know in our case, it definitely helps us because we’re right now in a temporary suspension of workouts.”
Last week, as a precautionary measure, ASHS suspended its football summer conditioning program for 14 days due to the fact that a member of the coaching staff had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID -19. The school’s marching band has also suspended summer practices for 14 days due to the fact that a member of the band tested positive for the Coronavirus.
While Price see’s the GHSA’s decision to push the start of football season back to Labor Day Weekend as a good thing, he believes that there are still things that need to be ironed out as far as the new 10-game regular season schedule is concerned.
“The only question would be now is going to a 10-week season, how do you make those adjustments starting on September 4? Does each team just go look at a region schedule only, or do they coordinate with those non-region teams and allow them to make up some of those games that they would have missed before that September 4 deadline? Those are some questions still in the air as far as how we can manage that and move forward,” Price continued.
As a result of the GHSA’s reclassification that was done last year, ASHS has dropped down from Class AAAA to Class AAA. Beginning this fall, the Panthers will be competing in Region 2-AAA, which will include Crisp County, Peach County, Mary Persons, Jackson, Pike County, Upson-Lee and Central (Macon).
Schley County Head Coach Darren Alford is also in favor of the GHSA’s decision to push the season back by two weeks. “I really think it’s a good idea because a lot of people have been dealing with closures and different things,” said Alford. “It’s going to give us a little bit of extra time to get the kids ready. I feel like the kids aren’t quite in the shape that they could be. It’s going to give us a little extra time to get them into shape. It just worries me putting them right on that field right now.”