As expected, the LHSAA executive committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the high school football season.
According to an LHSAA press release, the vote was 22-1 to “begin contact sports in LHSAA Competition Stage I.”
In a somewhat surprise move, the committee also voted to move the start of the regular season up a week from Oct. 8-10 to October 1-3. Teams can schedule a scrimmage for the end of this month (likely Sept. 24-25).
Teams will still play an eight-game schedule starting with their Week 3 opponent. There will still be 32-team playoff brackets. The 2020 Prep Classic will be Dec. 26-28 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Also, full contact work during practices can start as soon as Thursday.
According to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate, the decision to move up the start of the season came after Dr. Greg Stewart, the chairman of the LHSAA’s Sports Medicine Committee, spoke to the executive committee.
He said 21 days is the usual amount of time players need to acclimate to contact and heat. But since teams have already been working out in shoulder pads and helmets for a month, 10-14 days would suffice.
In the press release, it was announced that select and non-select schools will play championship events at the same sites in 2020-21.
As far as the number of spectators allowed at events, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said he’d like to see a 50 percent occupancy, according to The Advocate. Currently schools must abide by state guidelines outlined in opensafely.la.gov.
“The LHSAA staff has developed fall sport-specific event guidelines with help from Dr. Stewart, from the Tulane Sports and the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, for schools when conducting interscholastic competition. Competition guidelines will be posted in the near future,” the LHSAA release stated.
All the above moves come in the wake of a meeting of the House Committee on Education last Friday where Bonine said the start of the football season was no longer dependent on which phase of the COVID-19 pandemic the state is in.
The key was an opinion released by state Attorney General Jeff Landry that the LHSAA and member schools would not be liable if a player or any others contracted COVID-19 at sports events.