Practices have officially started and teams are beginning to feel optimistic about a football season. Even with the Georgia High School Association announcing that it will be delaying its season two weeks with the first games starting as early as Sept. 4, Augusta-area high schools are preparing as if the season will go on as planned.
Monday started official practices in Georgia with mandatory workouts. Teams will have to wait until Aug. 1 for full pads.
Following the GHSA’s announcement last week, a few more questions remain, as well as topics school districts will have to look at to fully prepare for a fall season.
The GHSA has left it up to school districts to decide. Columbia County and Richmond County are still having discussion on their plans to move forward with allowing spectators into games.
The last thing either school district wants to do is have to cancel its fall season. Neither district believes that’s going to happen, however, there will be a significant drop in finances with limited or no spectators at football games.
For most schools in the Augusta-area, football gate sales and concession sales drive the athletic department. With the lack of fans there will be a hit and both Richmond and Columbia County are trying to decide the best approach.
“We’ve talked about a few different scenarios, obviously social distancing is going to play the biggest part, how we’re going to tackle that,” said Evans athletic director, Kevin Kinney. “We’re going to try to be creative with the bands (as well).”
Though it’s not definitive, the plan is to find a way to get fans in the stands across all fall sports.
With the GHSA moving the season back, previously scheduled games had to be worked around to reflect the new date for week one, starting Sept. 4.
Around the Augusta-area, rescheduling games looked pretty straightforward with most teams playing local for their non-regions games. Aquinas coach James Leonard said he had no issues being able to reschedule its games or scrimmages.
“I’ve never scheduled teams from out of state just because I’m always scared of a situation that would arise with a different association,” Leonard said. “Not even thinking about a pandemic, just anything that could happen.”
Grovetown, Lakeside, Richmond Academy and Laney were all slated to play out-of-state games this season. Grovetown and Lakeside were scheduled to play North Augusta and Richmond Academy and Laney were scheduled to play Midland Valley, prior to the rescheduling.
Most teams were able to just push everything back two weeks without any issues, with scrimmages starting Aug. 21, two weeks before the start of the season.
Week one matchups include Aquinas at Harlem, Campbell at Grovetown and Evans at Cross Creek.