LHSAA memo: Louisiana prep football season delayed until October

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Tad Gormley

With the latest announcement by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards that Louisiana will stay in Phase 3 through August 25, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine addressed the media Wednesday afternoon.

As expected, the prep football season will not start on time.

Instead, the first potential regular season game will take place the second week of October.

As a result, the maximum number of regular season games that can be played is eight.

If that occurs, the regular season would be pushed back at least a couple of weeks as the second week of October would be equal to week five of the regularly scheduled season.

The playoffs would also be pushed back a few weeks, as a result, and would most likely be at a reduced number of teams and rounds to be played.

Under the current plan decided on by the LHSAA, the latest the state championship games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome could be played would be the last week of December, in between the Saints and their Christmas Day contest with the Minnesota Vikings and the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1

As a result, those game dates would be weekdays, on Monday, Dec. 28 through Wednesday, Dec. 30 .

Bonine confirmed that the regular season could be reduced to six games to try to stay on time with the original schedule, with the state championship games in the Superdome on Dec. 11 and 12. He also stated that in conversations with coaches and athletic directors, the overwhelming sentiment was that they want at least a seven-game regular season.

Interestingly, Bonine said that Select schools, who opted to play state championship games away from the Superdome and away from the Non Select schools in basketball this past school year, have been invited to return to all LHSAA state championship venues, reuniting the two entities.

Bonine said the invitation was made in lieu of the many issues facing schools in the midst of the pandemic and that the early reaction from 12 Select school representatives to the concept was positive. Bonine said he expects the results of a vote from Select schools by the end of the week.

The elephant in the room remains what Phase the state of Louisiana remains in. While Bonine is optimistic that the COVID-19 virus positive test numbers will decrease in the coming weeks, he said that athletics and schools were totally at the mercy of the Phase situation. In Phase 3, Bonine said if he sees a continuing decline of virus numbers for 10-14 days, collisions in football would be allowed.

If Louisiana remains in Phase 2 by August 25, the current plan would have to be revised with either the season shrinking or football moving to later dates.

While the latter is still in play, Bonine expressed reservations about moving football to the spring semester because of the extreme overlap with other sports which would hurt those sports, including athletes who compete in multiple sports on the boys and girls side of the equation.

Bonine stressed that the LHSAA is not the same as collegiate sports, that the restrictions and what is allowed on the two levels are quite different.

The good news is that volleyball can start September 8, allowing the sport to have its regularly scheduled season.

In addition, cross country would be allowed to start on time in Phase 2 while swimming would be possible as well.

Bonine expressed his deep concern for student-athletes and how badly he and the organization want to see those student-athletes have sports seasons but said that the numbers will dictate everything, along with state guidelines.

“I don’t want to be in a position to cancel anything,” Bonine said.

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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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