(Author’s note: I wrote this column prior to the last Friday’s football game with Putnam. Little did I know that the weirdness was just beginning because Putnam defeated Morgan 5-2 – a score that had never been posted in a high school football game since 1912. Read more about the game and the history behind that score in today’s sports page.)
High school football in Georgia is back. Despite all the delays, fits and starts, quarantines, doubts and gnashing of teeth we’ve finally made it. Many teams around the state opened September 4th with most of the rest getting started this past Friday night. I say most of the rest because there are still some schools who have canceled their seasons, a few who have delayed their start date, a handful who are playing region opponents only and even a number of schools still mulling over their options.
With Covid-19 ever lurking in the background to pounce at inopportune times we can all just get ready for a wild ride and the weirdest season ever.
The hypotheticals are just too numerous to cover so let’s just take one. Suppose Morgan County plays Monroe Area (scheduled for September 18th) and on the Monday following the game Monroe’s head coach calls and lands a punch to the gut. His news is that their starting running back tested positive over the weekend. Does that mean that Morgan County’s entire defense, who spent the previous Friday night tackling him, are all quarantined? I’m not sure but it could certainly happen.
This past week Morgan was set to play without some key players because of exposure at school. Let’s face it, this is going to happen to every team at some point along the way and it may happen a number of times. The teams that can get through the season with the fewest number of quarantines may wind up being region champions. There’s just no end to the maddening possibilities coaches and players will face in the 2020 season.
Because of these potentially disastrous prospects I’ve got four predictions to make:
• There will be more upsets this season than ever before due to the fact that there are bound to be squads playing woefully short-handed.
• Heretofore games being canceled have been virtually unheard of. The likelihood of cancellations is just about assured to go way up.
• Controversy will reign. Some teams will have to cancel region games (and can’t get them rescheduled) and this may cause an uproar in how region standings are determined. (Remember, the top four teams in each region make the state playoffs.)
• Players on the second units (or third) may wind up playing key roles for teams this year
It’s gonna get crazy before all is said and done.
I suppose the best thing to do from a fan standpoint is to just enjoy the fact that we are going to get to see some games and let the powers that be make the short-term and long-term decisions that will effect play. That’s the approach I’m going to take and when I head out to Bill Corry Stadium I’m just going to be thankful to be there.
To be sure I’ll be at the games writing my notes and cheering the team on but with one small difference from days gone by. I’ll have my mask on, be socially distanced and will have some sanitizer in my pocket. I don’t want to get old corona. I’ve spent months avoiding the bug and I’m not going to take any chances now. I encourage everyone else to do the same.
That last point should be emphasized. Wear the mask and keep your distance. I know there are folks that won’t do it but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It is for the common good of your fellow man, your community and your family. You don’t want to be the one who gives Covid-19 to someone else in the stands and you sure don’t want to take it home with you and be responsible for starting a hot spot. Just keep this one thing in mind – Having some empathy for your neighbor is a sign of high character.
So with the sermon over let’s get on with the 2020 high school football campaign. Let’s acknowledge that things may not always go our way but realize that communities all over the state are dealing with the same set of issues and let’s let our focus be the kids on the field and all the good things that come from sports.
And let’s all be safe.
(E-mail comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org)