Football fanatics across the Peach State will have to wait an extra fortnight before their beloved prep sport returns.
On July 20, the Georgia High School Association voted to delay the start of the 2020 high school football season by two weeks. Instead of hitting the field on Aug. 21 for the season openers, high school teams in Georgia will have their year begin on Sept. 4.
The acclimatization period, which signals open season for mandatory practices, began Monday, July 27. Practices with pads and full equipment are cleared to begin on Saturday.
On July 22, GHSA executive director Robin Hines eased restrictions on locker rooms, showers, and group size for summer sport conditioning. Locker rooms and showers are now allowed assuming the facilities are sanitized after each practice. Group size, which was expanded to 50 earlier this month, is now unlimited.
“I think that this is a positive for our team, for sure,” Cedartown football head coach Jamie Abrams said. “The acclimatization period starts next week when our guys will finally be getting to practice together. I think that giving teams a little extra time to prepare works out perfectly.”
Scrimmages will be allowed for football teams on Aug. 21 and 28. The season openers are now set for Sept. 4.
Cedartown is expected to scrimmage Haralson County on Aug. 28 in Tallapoosa, a matchup that was previously scheduled for Aug. 14.
“So much is changing every day about this so sometimes it is hard to keep up. We still have a lot of questions yet to be answered about the upcoming season,” Abrams said. “I have not had a chance to call (Haralson County football head coach Scott) Peavey at Haralson County. With all that is going on, it’s been hard to find time to speak on the phone,” Abrams said with a chuckle.
On the other side of the county, Rockmart head football coach Biff Parson had a different viewpoint.
“We’re just thankful that it is looking like we are going to have a football season,” Parson said. “At Rockmart, we try to stay prepared no matter what. It doesn’t change our preparation heading into the season. We are still going to be doing things the same way.”
Rockmart opens its season on Sept. 4 against Rome High School at Barron Stadium, a matchup that was to be a part of the Corky Kell Classic prior to this past week’s news that health concerns were changing that.
“Like I said, our preparation really hasn’t changed by the GHSA delay,” Parson said. “My main focus is coaching these guys up and getting them in shape.
“(Rockmart quarterback) Javin Whatley picked up a scholarship from UT-Chattanooga the other day and he already has some offers from schools like Army. So I am very happy for him,” Parson said. “I’m hoping we have a season because there are several special players in those junior and senior classes that have the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Unlike football, not much has changed for other fall sports. On Aug. 1, mandatory practices will be allowed for cheerleading, cross county, softball and volleyball. Their competition start dates did not change with the GHSA update.