Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Details will continue to be added as they are provided.
COVINGTON, Ga. — The Georgia High School Association is pushing the start of the 2020 varsity football season back two weeks.
The GHSA Board of Trustees met Monday afternoon to discuss the state of fall sports in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After a motion to remain on schedule was voted down, 8-4, the BOT voted unanimously to delay the season until Sept. 4 — two weeks after it was originally scheduled to begin.
CBS46’s Fred Kalil was the first to break the news Monday.
All other fall sports will reportedly start on time, per @fredkalil.— 𝘾𝙊𝙑𝙉𝙀𝙒𝙎 𝙎𝙋𝙊𝙍𝙏𝙎 (@CovNewsSports) July 20, 2020
According to the official minutes from the meeting, which were posted on the league's website, GHSA BOT President Glenn White confirmed that mandatory team conditioning for football will remain scheduled for a July 27 start. White added that GHSA football teams will still play out a 10-game regular season, followed by five rounds of state playoffs.
White noted that all other fall sports will begin as scheduled on the current GHSA calendar.
The decision to delay the football season two weeks was met by a mixture of excitement and skepticism from the Newton County coaches.
Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. told The Covington News he “wasn’t surprised” by the move the league made. However, he was displeased with the lack of initiative shown by officials to address player safety concerns.
“Pretty much nothing really changed, except for the fact that we’ve got to change some bus schedules and redo some contracts,” Grant Jr. said. “The acclimation period is the same. The day that you can put on pads is the same. But no one still is addressing or giving us concrete guidance on, ‘Here are the things that we need to do to be able to play football as safe as possible.’
“I’m disappointed that Georgia High School has not taken more of a lead in that area.”
Alcovy head coach Jason Dukes also expressed concerns. Dukes praised the GHSA for pushing games back two weeks, but admitted that it might not be enough for teams to get properly acclimated before kicking off their respective seasons.
“I don’t think any coach is actually going to feel that his team, from a conditioning standpoint and physicality standpoint, is going to be game-ready by September,” he said. “And during this time, that’s one of our biggest concerns. We’ve got to get that accomplished with the limited amount of time that we have before that first game.”
Grant Jr., Dukes and Eastside head coach Troy Hoff were in agreement that the league’s decision was overwhelmingly positive. They expressed their excitement for their seniors being afforded a final chance to play, as well as relief that they can move forward with scheduling.
However, the trio is remaining cautiously optimistic about the state of varsity football in light of the pandemic.
“I think we have to understand that we still know that things can change,” Hoff said. “We have to keep talking to our guys about doing their part by staying healthy, making good decisions and helping others do the same.”
Alcovy is slated to open the football season on Sept. 4 at North Forsyth, with Newton kicking off its campaign that same night against Woodward Academy at Sharp Stadium. Eastside will now begin its season the following Friday, Sept. 11, on the road against Winder-Barrow.