Games to move forward despite state quarantine phase
Through the turmoil of 2020, on and off the field, there is light at the end of the tunnel sports fans.
Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Eddie Bonine announced last week he will make recommendations this week to go forward with the LHSAA football season beginning the week of October 8-10, regardless of what decisions Gov. John Bel Edwards has made on moving the state out of its current Phase II position.
Union Parish and D’Arbonne Woods Charter now know for sure that the hard work this summer and during fall practice the past month will not go to waste.
“It was a sense of relief,” DWCS coach T.J. McBroom said of getting word of the official start to the season. “When you see a bunch of kids work hard since the beginning of summer, you want to, as a coach always stay positive and push the boys, but know nothing is set in stone. But now to know we are definitely going to play, as a coaching staff you get excited for the kids.”
The “normal” that everyone seeks is not exactly what the LHSAA has in mind for now.
The LHSAA has set guidelines, available in its entirety at www. lhsaa.org that give the schools guidance on what the games will look like.
Some of the biggest takeaways from that list include:
1. Stadiums will be at 50 percent capacity
Each LHSAA team hosting a game in their stadium will limit the ticket sales to 50 percent of the stadium seating capacity for the time being. It is expected that this could change if the state moves to Phase III of the White House and CDC guidelines at a later date.
2. The sidelines will be limited, and teams more spread out
The “Team Box” will extend an extra 10-yards to the 15-yard line on each end. This will allow for the teams to stand each player and coach 6 feet apart. Only essential personnel such as players, coaches, trainers and ball boys will be allowed on the sidelines this season. Every person on the sideline must wear a mask at all times. Only the players that are on the field of play can remove their masks.
3. Only one team captain, no handshakes
The pregame and post-game handshakes that fans have become accustomed to seeing are on hold for 2020. Many times, a team has sent multiple captains out for the coin toss, in some cases the entire senior class. That will not happen for now. Initial LHSAA guidelines for starting the season call for just one captain to participate in the coin toss to begin the game. Post-game handshake lines at midfield are also prohibited.
McBroom says the recent months have felt like a “turning table” of rule changes and protocols as the LHSAA prepares for the season but keeping the kids safe and playing the sport, they love is a top priority.
“We have to make sure kids know where they have to be when they aren’t on the field, that sort of thing,” McBroom explained. “We were blessed with a great athletic director, Tonya McIntosh, that understands our needs and has made sure we have everything we need and are following all the protocols.”
The teams are still practicing in helmets and shorts as the LHSAA has yet to officially allow for pads in practice, but that mandate may change this week as Bonine, and the Executive Committee meet to make a final decision.
“There are still ways you can get out there and be getting kids prepared,” McBroom said. “There is not just a physical aspect but a mental aspect as well. You would love to be popping pads and running plays but that’s what a dry board is for. Still able run through things smoothly.”
Despite the limitations on contact in practice to this point, local teams continue to get out and make the best of the situation.