With news of a meeting by the LHSAA to endorse an official starting date, Concordia Parish coaches hit the practice fields this week with even more energy.
“I’m excited,” said Ferriday High head football coach Stanley Smith, who led the Trojans to the Class 2A state championship last year. “We have a group text and the kids are always asking what’s going on, and about practice. Everything was just so uncertain. But now it’s time to do it. We have to be efficient with our time and schedule.”
At the Louisiana House Education Committee meeting toast week, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said it is time for prep football to take place in October regardless of whatever the pandemic response phase is for Louisiana based on executive orders from Governor John Bel Edwards.
The LHSAA had been following the mandates of Governor Edwards with regard to which phase the state was in and what was allowed for football programs across the state, based on the current phase.
Louisiana remains in Phase two at this time, which allows only gatherings of 25 persons at one specific time for high school football teams and for all sports. The result of this restriction is that no high school football team in Louisiana has been able to gather as a whole as part of any practice or meeting.
The LHSAA Executive Committee met on Wednesday to vote on approving the plan to allow high school football to begin on Oct. 8 with an eight-game regular season schedule, followed by playoffs.
Bonine stated that the interpretation of the Louisiana State Fire Marshall is that 50 percent attendance can be allowed for volleyball and football. Bonine added that full contact practices could start as early as this week.
Board of Elementary and President Sandy Holloway and Louisiana Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley each spoke at the meeting and approved the plan to move forward.
Bonine added that strict policies will be in place at gate entries to stadiums to attempt to alleviate any spreading of the coronavirus. Schools will establish be responsible for specific guidelines at the gates, including possibly wearing masks, temperature checks and other preventative measures.
Edwards stated that starting high school football was never part of his proclamations, so LHSAA has the authority to start playing football if deemed to be safe enough.
The Trojans will scrimmage at Bastrop on September 25, compete in the Menard/Bolton Jamboree in Alexandria on October 2 and open their season at home against Sicily Island on October 9.
“We’ll continue to follow the guidelines,” Smith said. “It’s a lot of extra work on our part, but it’s worth it.”
Delta Charter will host a jamboree on October 2 against Beekman Charter and River Oaks, which just joined the LHSAA.
Wheeler was waiting on official word about a scrimmage.
Delta Charter will open its season October 9 at home against Jonesboro-Hodge.
“We’re excited to get back after it,” Wheeler said. “We now have a true goal. We returned to the practice field with a purpose. Everybody is fired up.”
Wheeler said the Storm coaching staff will continue following protocol regarding the Covid-19 virus.
“It’s worked for us so far,” Wheeler said. “We can’t control what goes on in the outside world, but we will continue to do our best to control the things we can. But right now we’re just tickled to death to have games scheduled. I watched college football this past weekend and it got my heart pumping.”
Wheeler lost nine starters from last year’s team and is dressing out 23.
“One thing the delay did do is give us more time to do some coaching,” he said. “There will be no sitting out for our players this year. And they are going to be thrown into the fire right off against Jonesboro-Hodge, so I think that adds to the excitement.”
Vidalia High head football coach Mike Norris was still waiting for official word on the actual schedule.
“I hope we are able to get a jamboree where we can get people to come here,” said Norris, who is in his first year at head coach. “I waited until the end of practice last Friday to tell the guys about the latest news about playing on October 9. Now they have something to get ready for and a sense of preparing for an opponent.”
As a new head coach with a number of new starters and new offensive coordinator in Josh Loy, Norris said the extra time has been beneficial.
“If this was going to happen, this may have been the best year,” Norris said. “Not only are we young, but we have new terms we are using on offense and defense. There’s new things they have had to learn, but they have gotten it down really well. Now we can concentrate more on using it.”