The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control voted on Tuesday to begin the high school football season on Sept. 11 with a nine-game regular season and five rounds of playoffs.
Here are some key dates for football:
- Aug. 24 — Helmet-only practices begin
- Sept. 11 — Regular-season play begins (nine-week regular season with week of Nov. 6 open to reschedule a game)
- Nov. 13 — First round of playoffs (keeping all five rounds)
- Dec. 11-12 — State finals at UK moved ahead one week
Other fall sports, including middle school, can begin practicing Aug. 24 including cross country, and volleyball will still be able to play 80% of their regular season games by abiding by the calendar:
- Aug. 24 — Light practice
- Aug. 31 — Full practice
- Sept. 7 — Full competition begins
The Board of Control also moved to limit sporting events to meetings between teams from the state of Kentucky. The exceptions are out-of-state schools that reside in counties that border Kentucky.
There will be a limit on the number of players in uniform to ensure social distancing: cross country 10; football 60; and volleyball 15.
Generals Coach John Hallock has been monitoring what is happening with early efforts at football practice in the region. A COVID-19 outbreak among Hazard Independent High School football players had spread by Monday to 38 people, including 18 football players, three coaches and 17 of their family members and close contacts who have tested positive. Scott Lockard, the director of the Kentucky River District Health Department in Hazard who provided the numbers, said all 38 have been recovering at home. Lockard had reported on July 11 that the southeastern Kentucky school had suspended athletic team workouts as nine players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19 in a cluster. With the increase in cases, he said Monday that athletic workouts, practices and training at the school have now been suspended indefinitely. A weight room at the high school was considered to be the common denominator. He said the high school weight room “we think was a big part of the transmission between the students.” Lockard said the health department would work with the school to determine when it was safe to resume workouts. Lockard said he could not confirm that Hazard Independent was the Kentucky school that Gov. Andy Beshear mentioned during a Friday news conference as having 36 positive COVID-19 cases as of Friday and being an example of “community impact.” Beshear would not identify that school where he said masks were not being worn inside a weight room. He noted that 18 players and three coaches had tested positive and as of Friday, 15 others. “This is just one example of why wearing a mask is absolutely critical,” Beshear said. “Let’s just take this as another lesson that we’re living in really dangerous times.”
A little closer to home South Laurel Football Coach and teacher Donnie Burdine has been hospitalized with COVID-19. Coach Burdine’s condition was very troubling and his prognosis was uncertain for a period. However, he is back home now. Coach Burdine was young and healthy and almost lost his life to COVID-19. This is troublesome for teachers and coaches as we desperately try to resume sports and school.
Coach Hallock responded, “First, on behalf of our Jackson County football family we extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to Coach Burdine, his family, football and school community. Coach Burdine is a man of great character and has dedicated a significant part of his life to mentoring student athletes through football! We are all standing with him! We also extend these thoughts and prayers to the Hazard football family.”
Coach Hallock continued, “Regarding football related issues, practices are going well. As is well known these are unusual times therefore there is only so much we can do at this point. Our priority has been player safety, leadership development, team bonding, collecting the appropriate paper work such as physicals, and focus on conditioning. We will know more regarding what we can do after the KHSAA Board of Control meeting Tuesday, July 28, 2020. We still have two positions to fill: Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Coach.”