The 2020 football season is going to be unlike anything local high school coaches, players and fans have ever experienced before. And many have not even been in real game action yet.
Union Christian Academy in Farmerville is part of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) and held its first game this past Saturday.
UCA was scheduled to host Tallulah Academy for the 8-man football regular season opener, but Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards’ decision to remain in Phase II for the foreseeable future has schools unable to host games across the state.
Porter’s Chapel School in Vicksburg, Miss., has made its field available to any Louisiana school that needs to use it this sea son and this gave the Lions a place to play its opening game despite the obvious drawbacks.
“Porter’s Chapel has been very helpful and offered their field to any Louisiana MAIS members,” Union Christian coach Trey Fulton said. “There were limitations on number of fans. Their governor (in Mississippi) has done a fans limitation, but he isn’t trying to stop them from playing.”
Despite losing to Tallulah Academy 46-14, the UCA student-athletes got to take the field with their teammates. After going 4-7 with a first-round playoff loss in 2019, the Lions have some veteran leadership looking to take them to new heights in 2020.
Quarterback Cross Talley leads the offense. Talley also plays some linebacker and defensive back for UCA. Slade Berry will be one of the main targets this year at tight end and also starting at linebacker for the Lions.
UCA is taking extra care with the washing of uniforms and equipment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team saw its scrimmage at Prairie View Academy in Bastrop cancelled by the Morehouse Parish Fire Marshall the day before the game.
“We hope to be able to play at Prairie View this week,” Fulton said. “The travel that is involved with like what we just did in Vicksburg, you have those extra expenses and you have to pay the refs. We aren’t looking forward to (travel every week) but everyone I talk to says they are going to do what they have to do for the kids to get to play.”
If the state does not advance to Phase III this week, the game against Prairie View will be played in Natchez, on Saturday at 7 p.m.