Friday Night Lights Unlikely This Fall

Friday Night Lights Unlikely This Fall
Three High School Sports Models Presented, Decision Expected Monday

The Virginia High School League Executive committee met to discuss the upcoming school year’s sports seasons in a video conference last Wednesday and voted unanimously to delay the start of the season until a decision at its next meeting next Monday, July 27.

When the committee reconvenes, it will consider three options presented Wednesday by VHSL executive director Dr. John “Billy” Haun for scheduling sports for the 2020-21 school year. With concerns of the spread of the coronavirus,

None of these options includes a possibility of fall football or volleyball.

Here are the options:

Model 1 – Low and moderate contact risks sports that would be allowed to play are golf and cross country. High risk sports that would not be played are football, volleyball and cheerleading.

Model 2 – Switch the fall and spring seasons. Low and moderate contact risk sports that would be allowed to play in the

fall are track and field, tennis, soccer, baseball, and softball. High risk sports that would not be played are boys and girls lacrosse.

Model 3 – Delay all VHSL sports and adopt the Condensed Interscholastic Plan. Leave all sports in the season where they are currently aligned.

• Season 1 (Winter) Dec. 14 – Feb. 20 (First Contest Date – Dec. 28)

• Season 2 (Fall) Feb. 15 – May 1, 2021 (First Contest Date – March 1)

•Season 3 (Spring) April 12 – June 26, 2021 (First Contest Date – April 26)

It is still possible a different option including the possibility of fall football and volleyball could be presented on July 27, but there was widespread sentiment Wednesday among the 34 voting members of the executive committee in favor of Model 3.

New RC athletic director Mike Gale said the news from the meeting “is not a surprise. I know those models have been out there for a while. There is no easy answer. We want the athletes back out competing, but their safety is the number one concern.”

The RC football team had started conditioning last week, first going over procedures and taking physical forms before doing any workouts, while taking precautions and practicing social distancing. After three days, the team had a brief meeting on Thursday before shutting down workouts for at least a few weeks.

Reacting to the likelihood of no football this fall, fifth-year head coach Mark Poston said, “I hate it for the kids and our coaches. A high school football player only has so many snaps. With recruiting cycles getting shorter, it could significantly impact people’s future.”

Addressing the likelihood of no volleyball this fall, third-year PM head coach Shannon Stiltner said, “I am disappointed about the season not starting on time but understand why. I want everyone involved to be safe, and the best decision for that to happen is to hold off. My players are upset, but they understand and hope that we will get to play sometime.”

Stiltner said the team hasn’t started to practice yet because they have been waiting on the VHSL and the guidelines to come. “Myself, the players and other coaches are eager to get back to it and have some normalcy back in our lives,” she said. Stiltner added that she is OK with Model 3, having a condensed season from Feb. 15 to May 1. “I want the girls to play, especially the seniors. They deserve it. And with the season moved to later, it will give us time to practice and do the things we haven’t been able to over the summer.”

Fifth-year RC head volleyball coach Amanda McCoy posted that her team was awaiting the VHSL decision regarding fall sports before moving forward with training.

At PM, teams were scheduled to start practice yesterday, but the VHSL’s upcoming decision will determine which teams continue to practice in the coming months.

Reacting to the news from last week’s VHSL Executive Committee meeting, secondyear PM athletic director Mike Cartolaro said, “I don’t think any of us here have been overly surprised as to what came out of the meeting.”

Cartolaro said that, of all three models presented, he and most of the PM coaches like the second one the best, which would allow the low and moderate infection risk sports that normally take place in the spring to take place in the fall. This option could allow each team to have a full season, if all goes well.

“We’re going to see if we can get some support for that,” Cartolaro said. There is a chance of an outbreak if sports resume that soon, of course, and Cartolaro said, “If it does fail, then we just shut everything down.”

Cartolaro said that option is more popular than having just golf and cross country, possibly with staggered starts to avoid crowded starts, in the fall. Members of the VHSL Executive Committee mostly agreed that having full golf and cross country seasons but condensing other seasons would not be fair to the other teams.

Members of the RC golf team will be helping out at the member/member tournament at the Lexington Golf & Country Club, using the opportunity as a fundraiser. If golf season is approved, they plan to start practicing on Thursday, July 30.

For PM, Cartolaro said he isn’t sure if there will be a golf team this year, as the Blues only had one golfer last year, 2020 graduate Trevor Wright, and head coach Fred Fix died in March.

If the VHSL Executive Committee votes on Model 3 on Monday, each team would play about 60 percent of its normal regular-season schedule. That means each football team would have six regular-season games. State playoffs would be possible for many sports but not for football, though one idea is to have a postseason “bowl game” for each school.

Looking ahead to the next move while showing patience, Gale said, “The only thing we can do now is wait for the decision of the VHSL Executive Committee on July 27 and go from there.”