There will be High School Football this fall in Pennsylvania—and State Playoffs
What had been speculation and good portents in previous weeks was confirmed Wednesday afternoon by the PIAA Board of Directors fall sports as scheduled by a 29-3 vote.
There will be high school football in Pennsylvania this fall—and what’s more, it looks like there will be playoffs.
Throughout the previous months PIAA executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi had stated publicly that he was “cautiously optimistic” a fall season would take place despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
PIAA football teams are expected to report on Monday, August 10 for heat acclimation, and Monday, August 17, for the start of summer practice. Football games can begin Friday, August 28. Though, if schools opt to start late, there are multiple different start dates they can aim for, like Sept, 18 or a hybrid schedule that would start before Oct. 5, or later with the respective district’s approval.
It also looks like the PIAA approved a state playoff, so teams like St. Joseph’s Prep, the two-time defending 6A state champion, will get a chance to threepeat as a state champion.
A truncated schedule means a short season, with the aim being the state playoffs completed by Thanksgiving Day weekend.
The fall sports seasons can still be shut down. It’s something that Dr. Lombardi did not dismiss.
“It has been an awful lot of effort from an awful lot of people,” Lombardi said. “We’ve been really working at this to make sure our student/athletes have the opportunity to be student/athletes. If we don’t try to get something out of this season for students, I think we’re failing them.”
The PIAA approved the minutes from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee meeting in which SMAC recommended PIAA fall sports moving forward as planned. Heat acclimation begins on Aug. 10 for football
But this season will come with stringent guidelines, according to the PIAA, the state’s high school sports governing body.
The PIAA stated that schools scheduled to play each other must report to their opponent within a reasonable time frame any case of COVID-19 within their team members and coaching staff. Schools that have any COVID-19 cases with players or coaches must inform their previous opponents, which was established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH).
District committees may consider cancelling a game due to COVID-19 considerations.
Though Lombardi has been pleased with how the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health protocol have been followed, the PIAA will not allow fans at games this fall.
“Right now, we’re anticipating in most of our scenarios, no spectators and that’s going to be a difficult thing,” Lombardi said.
The preliminary school sports guidance document states that, “The addition of visitors and spectators will be contingent upon future health conditions within the state and local communities.” The PIAA anticipates more information coming from Gov. Wolf’s office and the Department of Education.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine declined to endorse the recommendation to return to competition by the PIAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
If a player tests positive, the entire team will be quarantined for 10 days to two weeks, depending on the current CDC guidelines. If a player tests positive during the regular season, the game is considered a no-contest.
Though in the postseason, if a player tests positive, his team would forfeit the playoff game.
As for school districts that have decided on remote learning, those student/athletes, though not permitted to physically enter the school, would be allowed to play football.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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