The Highlands Bluebirds football team (4-5 overall) will be headed to Hebron to take on the Conner Cougars (3-3) to open the Class 5A playoffs.
But it will not happen for a week.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association announced that it's pushing back the start of the high school football playoffs one week.
KHSAA Director Julian Tackett said it was about giving school s time to deal with issues as Covid-19 cases have increased across the Commonwealth. “This decision isn’t just about the few ongoing quarantines, it’s about 82 counties being defined as 'red' including the vast majority of the east."
Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich learned the news while doing film review from the 34-21 win at Campbell County (2-6) on Friday.
"All we can do is stay positive about the situation and make the most of it," Weinrich said.
"The reason that playoffs are being pushed back is because of the situation that we're all in right now. Where we stand now with guys could change any minute. We've had to deal with that already this year, this week, (Friday). It just happens with the blink of an eye and you're not expecting it - A guy rolling his ankle in practice, a guy getting banged up in a game. That happens. You see it. You move on. But when you get the phone call that a guy can't play because of this with all the different issues with the (Coronavirus 2019) that's out there, it's nerve-racking. You have to continue to do the best practices in terms of how we monitor guys before practice, during practice, after practice and doing the best we can to keep guys safe."
Weinrich said the staff has constantly talked to the players about making good decisions. That includes attending large gatherings with friends and family members. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear noted that the schools are doing a good job of following the healthy at school protocols, which is keeping spread within schools at a minimum. He noted that the virus is mostly spreading at small gatherings, when people let their guard down, relaxing masking and social distancing guidelines.
Beshear announced 2,302 new cases Friday with 10 deaths and a 6.77 percent positivity rate.
Highlands senior defensive lineman Braden Baioni said the extra week off will help the team recover from injuries. Baioni is one of them.
"We need to have a great week of practice, have some days off then have a bye," Baioni said. "We'll get back to work the following week and try to win a playoff game."
Conner finished with a .49617 ratings percentage index and Highlands finished with a .49462 RPI. Some may wonder why the Bluebirds are not hosting the first-round playoff game. The biggest difference is out-of-state opponents did not factor into the decision as heavily as in-state opponents. In the summer, the KHSAA said teams can play out-of-state opponents from counties that border Kentucky. Highlands played Moeller (3-6) and lost 50-14 on Oct. 30.
Highlands won 36-0 at Conner on Oct. 3. The Cougars beat the Bluebirds twice last year including a 38-28 victory in the first round of the playoffs in Hebron.
The RPI index is explained here: