Practice returns…will football?

High School Sports

Northwood Head Football Coach Austin Brown and his staff are seen wearing masks during a recent practice.

SHREVEPORT, La. (KMSS/KTAL) – LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine has stated that moving fall sports to the spring is an option, though the state is doing it’s best to avoid moving in that direction. With Louisiana ranking number one in per capita COVID-19 cases, its safe to assume that option is still on the table.

Graph: courtesy of Carlie Procell/USA Today

Despite the growing case numbers, teams returned to practice today, with expanded guidelines that allowed teams to wear helmets, hit practice dummies, and use hand shields. Coaches around the area processed the news differently.

“We were excited. It is a step in the right direction,” said first year Northwood Head Coach Austin Brown. “We have some great guys in leadership here in the state, and they’ve gotta make hard decisions. This was something they believed was right and we’re just happy to get back to work.”

While the news that schools could still start practice on August 3 was encouraging, each individual school district makes that decision. The Bossier Parish School Board is holding off on allowing schools in their parish from advancing to the new LHSAA guidelines (for now).

At Northwood, Coach Austin Brown is seen disinfecting a squat bar between reps.

“We didn’t really get excited when we heard the news,” said Airline Head Football Coach Bo Meeks. “Nothing really changes for us. We get our guidelines from the school board, so they tell us what we can and can’t do.”

The attention now turns towards Governor John Bel Edwards. Gov. Edwards is expected to announce whether or not the state is moving to Phase 3 or staying in Phase 2 at some point this week. A move to Phase 3 means that football could start as early mid-September. Staying in Phase 2 could mean the start of football would be even later, and may push the LHSAA to make more difficult decisions regarding fall sports.

Whatever happens, the health and safety of student athletes will be the main priority.

“As much as I love football, these kids come first,” said Coach Meeks. “We’ve got to make sure we can make a healthy return to school before we worry about football.”

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