From the sidelines

No special football section this time around

By Marty Gordon

For the past 20 years this week, I would be preparing for another high school football season. The newspaper would have published its annual preseason section, and the first game would be this Friday.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of that has come to a screeching halt. Last month, the Virginia High School League decreed no sports would be played this fall and the winter sports would not get underway until at least mid-December.

I am a little lost not having to worry about fall football and the many hours spent in putting together a preview section. There would also be the Friday “Pick-um” with several astute prognosticators, the Friday night game previews and of course our preseason team of the year.

Our preseason player of the year was slated to be quarterback Zane Rupe of Radford. I was also eager to see how Radford’s P.J. Prioleau recovered from last year’s season-ending knee injury.

I have some other things on my mind, including these ten:

Can Blacksburg reload after losing a large contingent of players that led them to the state playoffs in the past three years?

Will the Bruins finally get to play on the artificial turf at Bill Brown Stadium?

Will Giles County be able to play down in classification as its numbers continue to falter?

Can Christiansburg High School build on the momentum it set last season as several young players mature?

Will Floyd County coach Winfried Beale finally hang up the clipboard?

Can Auburn continue its winning ways and finish in the top of the always-tough Mt. Empire District?

How many schools in Southwest Virginia will even field a team this year because of declining enrollment numbers?

How many people will be allowed to attend the games?

What will scheduling look like, and will state football champions even be crowned this school year?

Of course, the biggest question is how will schools handle positive cases of COVID-19 as they try to keep players and coaches safe?

Well, I guess we will just have to wait until the spring when we will have a shortened football season. It might be hard to keep up as we go quickly from a shortened basketball season directly to the gridiron.

And did we mention that baseball and softball will also quickly follow football?

The approved schedule model includes looks like this:

Season 1 (winter) December 14 – February 20 (First Contest Date – December 28): basketball, gymnastics, indoor track, swim/dive, wrestling.

Season 2 (fall) February 15 – May 1 (First Contest Date – March 1): cheer, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, volleyball.

Season 3 (spring) April 12 – June 26 (First Contest Date – April 26): baseball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field.

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