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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

KHSAA Makes More Decisions Regarding Fall Sports

KHSAA Board of Control Delays First Practices to Aug, 24, Olympic Sport Games to Sept. 7, Football Games to Sept. 11

Games for Highlands Cross Country, Volleyball and Soccer will start Sept. 7. The first game for the Highlands football team will be Sept. 11. (Img: G. Michael Graham)

By G. Michael Graham

Coaches and players of the Highlands Bluebirds fall sports teams hoped for good news regarding the season when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control held a Special Meeting on Tuesday online.

The KHSAA presented three different options. They were delaying the start of fall seasons except golf then switching football, cross country, soccer and volleyball to the spring and baseball, softball, tennis and track and field to the fall. The third was a sandwich plan where fall sports are moved to the winter.

The Board of Control decided to delay the start of fall sports except football and golf to Aug. 24 for practices and games until Sept. 7. Practices will be limited to seven and a half hours that first week with full practices starting Aug. 31. No one voted against the plan. The soccer postseason will start Oct. 12 and the postseason dates for volleyball and cross country will remain the same. Interscholastic scrimmages are not permitted for the time being.

As a result of the shortened fall seasons, the Board made modifications to Bylaw 23 regarding the Limitation of Seasons for this year. The Board removed the allowance of scrimmages and changed the number of contests to nine for cross country, 14 for soccer and 24 for volleyball.

The Board of Control also voted for Competitive Cheer and Dance to start practices on Aug. 24. The board also recommended the teams to do as much activity outside as possible.

The biggest decision for the board came in terms of football. The first organized practice will be Aug. 24 and consist of three full weeks of practice with the first game scheduled for Sept. 11 when Highlands is slated to play Simon Kenton at home. The playoffs will be pushed back to Nov. 13 and 14 with the state championship games taking place Dec. 11 and 12 to allow for a nine-week season.

The board had two options in terms of having three weeks or four weeks of practices then having a nine or eight-week regular season. The board had the options of starting practices Aug. 10, 17, 24 or 31 then starting games Aug 28, or Sept, 4, 11, 18 or 25.

The Highlands football team will not be able to play its first three games on originally scheduled dates. The Bluebirds had a home game scheduled for Aug. 21 against Scott, a game in the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic at Corbin scheduled for Aug. 29 against Chattanooga (Tennessee) Notre Dame and a road game at Campbell County scheduled for Sept. 4.

Highlands can reschedule two of those games including one for the original bye week on Oct. 30. But Scott is slated to play at home against Dixie Heights that day and Campbell County has a game against Boone County that day.

Highlands will not be able to play Notre Dame because the board voted to limit competition to in-state opponents and to opponents in counties in other states that border Kentucky. Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic host Corbin has a game scheduled at Somerset on Oct. 30.

Highlands football Head Coach Brian Weinrich called the preparation process "a college exam night cram session." Teams can practice in helmets only on Aug. 26 before putting shoulder pads on Sept. 2 then going in full gear on Sept. 5. That will give teams less than a week in full gear before the first game.

"It's a whole set of experiences and challenges," Weinrich said. "The players have continued to be awesome. You worry about how they'll keep up and the uncertainty. They know why they're doing what they're doing. There's light at the end of the tunnel."

Weinrich said the schedule will be looked at in a few days. He said Nov. 6 should be filled since everyone has an opening on that day.

In other actions, the board decided to limit huge events in sports outside of golf and cross country to just eight teams until further notice. That could impact some tournaments the Highlands volleyball and basketball teams in during the regular season.

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett presented concerns about starting practices Aug. 3 with the rise in Coronavirus 2019 cases in Kentucky in recent weeks. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear reported 522 new cases on Monday with nine deaths bringing the total to 709 deaths. The delay aligns with Beshear's recommendation of school districts starting the year with online non-traditional instruction.

The board also approved limits on the number of players in uniform to ensure appropriate social distancing of six feet apart. Those limits are 60 for football, 10 for cross country, 24 for soccer and 15 for volleyball.

Tackett praised the board filled with members from all over the state. He acknowledged school superintendents have had to make tough decisions regarding the start of school among other things.

"Things will be different," Tackett said. "There are a variety of opinions. From e-mails, I've received, it's 9-to-1 in favor of doing something. No matter what we do, someone will question it. For someone, it will not fit their agenda. We have to be ready to pivot at a moment's notice. We have to be flexible."

Tackett pointed out things will happen. But he reinforced the emphasis of wearing masks. He wants schools to get on social media and show what they're doing to control Coronavirus 2019. Tackett pointed out he went to little league baseball tournaments for a couple weeks and was alarmed that some people seemed to not acknowledge the virus.

"We plan to model that," Tackett said. "Our social media team is putting a few things together. We're going to try to emphasize it."

Two weeks ago, the Board of Control gave the green light for the golf teams to start official practices. But cross country, football, volleyball and soccer could only hold strength and conditioning sessions.

Another meeting is scheduled for Aug. 20 at 10:30 a.m. That one is also a virtual meeting.

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