Football teams prepare for uncertain 2020 season

Lake Okeechobee News/Richard Marion
Moore Haven football coach Brent Burnside is hopeful that the 2020 season can continue on as planned.

MOORE HAVEN — Moore Haven Terrier football coach Brent Burnside spent the early hours of Monday, June 29, helping paint lines on the team’s practice field ahead of a team meeting later that night.

At the meeting, Burnside and his fellow coaches will be seeing players for the first time since spring break to go over new guidelines the team is putting in place in the wake of COVID-19. Those guidelines involve checking temperatures of players before practice, increased sanitization of the weight room and working out in smaller groups while promoting social distancing.

On June 30 the Terriers held the first conditioning and workouts for the 2020 season.

The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has listed July 27 has the date that teams can hold their first non-contact practice, with Aug. 1 being the first full contact practice. For now, at least, according to the FHSAA, there will be high school football in 2020.

Some schools have already pulled the plug on the sport for the year. Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg announced their football team will not play this fall.

“We’ve been planning as if we’re starting on the 27th,” said Burnside of the Terrier’s offseason game plan. “Honestly we’re already behind other schools in the area that we have to compete with. Lee County started up two weeks ago and some of the private schools were even before that. The FHSAA has said that right now, everything is going as planned, but still left things open to be changed. Right now we’re operating as if this season is happening.”

If more schools follow Admiral Farragut’s action, Burnside worries that even if the FHSAA continues with the season, the sport could lose the state championship tournament.

“I think there’s going to be a couple more schools that are going to follow that trend of shutting down football until 2021,” Burnside predicted. “I think that’ll jumble up our state championship series. If several schools drop out, that changes everything and throws off the districts and the competitiveness. I think they (FHSAA) would just shut down the championship series and maybe have a bowl game or something at the end of the year.”

For know, Burnside says he plans to keep things as normal as possible for his players in the lead up to the new season.

“Other than the extra precautions, we’re treating this as any other summer program,” explained Burnside. “First day in helmets is July 27 and the kickoff classic against East Lee County is Aug. 14. That’s what we’re going with. I don’t think you say much else to the kids like ‘I don’t know’ or ‘they might shut us down.’ We’re just saying that we got the green light, the schedule is what it is and we’re going.”

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