High school football is back.
Glendale’s Cactus and Mountain Ridge were among high schools starting football practice this week.
The executive board of the Arizona Interscholastic Association recently voted to endorse the latest guidelines proposed by the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for the safe implementation of a return to sport and activity.
Football, as well as other fall sports, will continue as scheduled.
Football can begin practice, and games can start Sept. 30.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has put the sports community in disarray. Professional leagues have had to adjust their schedules and move competition to a “bubble,” where contact is limited to team personnel. The Pac-12 Conference, which include Arizona State and Arizona, has opted not to play this fall.
Fan attendance at high school games will be a local decision, the AIA said. School administrators will determine who will be allowed to attend games based on information from the Arizona Department of Health Services and other sources.
The AIA has shared recent rules modifications for golf, including mobile scoring, no handshakes, players and spectators leaving the course immediately, no raking of bunkers, no touching of the flagstick, and adjustments to warmups and size restrictions of invitational tournaments.
The concern about coronavirus was a reality for Centennial High School football coach Richard Taylor.
“At the younger levels, we’ve had some kids that decided not to play this year,” Taylor said. “About two or three. At the varsity level, we had some other players that initially when we were allowed to go, they stayed (home) and didn’t come to practices. I think they wanted to see how things were going to be run and that we were going to follow all of the procedures and protocols. I think that once they felt comfortable with that, they showed up.”
Rick Garretson, coach of powerhouse Chandler High School, was focused on his players’ mental health and how important playing football is to them this season.
“Nobody knows kids better than their parents and coaches,” Garretson said before the announcement that the season would continue. “We’re around them sometimes more than their parents are. We’re keeping them mentally fresh, and we’re making sure we’re not burning them out before the season starts.”