LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ) – Amid a pandemic, athletes in Kentucky just had their fall sport seasons become a bit clearer. The KHSAA has voted for football to begin practice August 24 and for competition to begin September 11. Other fall sports of cross country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball will also begin practice on August 24, but will begin competition on September 7.
For football, teams they will have now have their playoffs to begin November 13 and 14 (previous date was Nov. 6 & 7). This would also make the state football finals to be held on December 11 and 12. As far as practice, athletes will be able to wear helmets only starting August 26, add shoulder pads September 2 and then go full gear on September 5. This also puts as the official start date to being Week 4 of the original season so teams will now play eight regular season games.
Tuesday’s decision was one coaches and players around the state have been hoping for and expecting.
“Probably a month or so ago we accepted that it may not be the length that we want, but we just have never really mentally gone there,” said David Buchanan, Mercer County High School Football Head Coach. “We’ve just all felt like we’re going to play.”
Buchanan is also the vice president of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.
He says the KHSAA worked with the coaches association in getting feedback. While there may be some concerns from coaches, Buchanan said they have to accept and adjust.
“The bottom line is we’re getting to play football. We need to be thankful for that and go make it work,” said Buchanan.
The board does plan to meet before the August 24 practice start date to check on COVID-19 numbers to assure it is safe for players to begin play.
“We’ll do everything we can to keep these kids safe. Obviously, it’s not 100 percent, but we’ll do everything that we possibly can,” said Nathan McPeek, Frederick Douglass High School Football Head Coach. “We’re not going to make excuses this year. Everybody is going to have to do a little bit more this year if we’re going to have football.”
KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett echoes the sentiments of coaches. While this is a big step, there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure the season happens as scheduled.
“In the coming weeks, we will continue to push for the citizens of our state to come together and drive down our data points to where everyone is more comfortable going forward throughout the school year in partnership with our schools,” added Tackett. “It is very easy and shows visible support for interscholastic athletics by adhering to the three public health obligations – always wear a mask or face covering, social distance as recommended, and proper handwashing.”
Tackett also spoke about how important athletics are to the student-athletes, coaches and school personnel.
“Our board strongly believes in the tremendous psychological advantages formed through the relationships between our student-athletes and their school coaches and school personnel, as well as the strong community values surrounding interscholastic, education-based athletics,” said KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett. “College and professional sports are great, but our unique opportunity to build relationships with our neighbors within one state is not one we take for granted.”