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There will be Friday Night Lights

Aerial view of Johnson County High Schools football stadium.  Submitted photo

By Tim Chambers
Sports Editor

To play or not to play, that is the question? It comes after a week of sports in a mixed bag. As expected, the TSSAA implemented its hybrid plan for football last Wednesday, voting to play an abbreviated season in 2020. The start of high school football practice is currently delayed due to Governor Bill Lee’s state-of-emergency order prohibiting contact sports from moving forward until August 29.  I spoke with Johnson County High School Athletic Director Austin Atwood by phone, who is elated that the kids are finally hearing some good news and getting back a near-normal routine. 

“Our school administrators have done a really good job with the start of school and all,” said Atwood. “We have to get back to some normal routine, and sports are a big part of that. No doubt, the season probably won’t start on time, and we’ll not be playing but an eight-game schedule, which will cancel our first two games that were to be played on the road. We are hoping that the rest of our schedule doesn’t change other than the start dates.”

The TSSAA hybrid plan still has that season possibly starting on August 21, but only if practice can begin August 3, which is unlikely. If that’s the case, then the schedule would be played as is without the schedule or playoff schedule being modified.”The likely target date for football to be started is September 22. Non-region games would be lost, causing the Longhorns games with Sullivan East and Sullivan North got to be lost. 

If you don’t have any practice contact by August 17, then the playoff picture will be reduced from 32 to 16 teams and will begin on Week 13 instead of Weed 12 like in past years, said TSSAA assistant director Matthew Gillespie. There will also be no scrimmages, jamborees, or a 7-on-7 passing league contest. Scrimmages must be intrasquad only.

The above is a far cry better than Virginia’s plan, which was approved on Monday. By a 34-1 vote, they voted to eliminate all sports from being played in the fall and condense the schedules to about 60 percent of its normal amount of games when it resumes. 

Their plan calls for football, volleyball, cross-country, golf, and cheerleading to be moved to the early spring, which could interfere with baseball and softball. They can’t start official practice until February 15, which the weather could create problems because
the season must end by May 1. 

Note all the above could change if the Governors of each state implement more COVID-19 plans. All this could happen after 20 Florida Marlin baseball players tested positive on Monday for COVID-19 just a few days after the start of Major League Baseball.