High school athletics: (updated) LHSAA pushes back start of football season to Oct. 8; volleyball season now set to begin Sept. 8

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The start of the high school football season has been pushed back to Oct. 8, according to a timeline in a memo sent by the LHSAA Wednesday to member schools’ coaches, athletic directors and administrators.

The season was supposed to start with games on Sept. 3 and 4. In a Zoom press conference Wednesday afternoon, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said scrimmages and/or jamborees could be held Oct. 2.

Benton head coach Reynolds Moore said he’s just glad the LHSAA set a new start date quickly even though he knows things are still fluid.

“I think it’s what we all expected,” he said of the season’s delay. “I’m just glad there’s actually a date that we’ve been given now on paper that we can kind of plan, we can use to kind of have a target date going forward.

The start of the high school volleyball season has been pushed back to Sept. 8. It was originally scheduled to start on Aug. 31.

The LHSAA’s decision to delay the season came one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the state will stay in Phase 2 of the economic re-opening 21 more days beginning Saturday.

The LHSAA has already announced football games would not be played until the state goes beyond Phase 3. Volleyball matches can be held when the state reaches Phase 3.

In Wednesday’s press conference, Bonine outlined the possibility of six-, seven- or eight-game football seasons. In a six-game season, the non-select state championship games could be played in the Superdome on the originally scheduled dates of Dec. 11-12.

In a seven-game season, the championship games would be the week before Christmas. In an eight-game season, they would be the last week of December.

Bonine said the Superdome would not be available after December.

As far as fans being allowed at regular-season and playoff games, Bonine said it would be up to local officials to determine that keeping in mind state and CDC guidelines.

He also said you can’t compare the situation in Louisiana with how colleges or other state associations are handling the restart of sports. Also, the schedules for winter sports won’t be affected with an Oct. 8 football start.

Monday is supposed to be the first “official” day of fall practice for Bossier Parish teams.

Moore said he will probably bring the team in Monday in their usual small groups to make sure helmets fit properly and things like that then start practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Practices are still subject to restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 but the LHSAA has loosened them somewhat.

For instance, 7-on-7 intra-squad games are allowed with no contact. But players must remain in static groups of 25 which makes having those games a challenge.

Pads can be worn Aug. 13 but no contact is allowed.

Moore said he and his staff will do what’s most beneficial within the protocols.

“I don’t want to do something to just to say we’re doing it because everybody else is,” he said. “I want it to be beneficial to our team and our kids and I’m not sure intra-squad 7-on-7 with no contact is good to teach our defense as much as we can.

“We’re going to do everything we can and stay within our rules and protocols. As we figure that out and see what that actually looks like and how beneficial we think it is we’ll kind of be in an ongoing evaluation of the process. If we feel like we can ramp it up some within the rules we’ll do that and if it’s a good idea to back off we’ll do that.

“It’ll just be a matter of kind of what we figure out once we get going. It’s kind of a moving target, a work in progress, whatever you want to call it. We’ll just keep trying and hope that our players and our parents will show some grace as we try to figure it out. Then we’ll go.”