Sanger head football coach Rocky Smart had to replace the first two games of the season last week. Originally, Benbrook and Lake Worth were scheduled, but with the Tarrant County’s COVID-19 mandate, both schools are not allowed to play football August 28 and September 4. Those games were replaced by Clifton (August 28) at Aledo High School. Clifton is located northwest of Waco. Sanger will play at Ferris (Sept. 4). Ferris HS is southeast of Downtown Dallas, between Ennis.
Schedule changes have been that way for other coaches, too, since the University Interscholastic League announced a modified fall sports schedule last week.
The UIL’s plan allows for “local flexibility,” according to a press release, but in doing so created varying rules and start dates for its member schools, especially for those who live in areas with stricter public health mandates. The UIL’s plan, accompanied by delayed and shortened seasons to private school leagues, changed the projected Texas high school football landscape and created a mad dash by coaches to try and fill openings that didn’t exist before the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s been that way for different schools, but for different reasons. At the 5A-6A level, most teams will play full seasons, but can’t start practices until Sept. 7. Teams in areas that don’t allow in-person athletic instruction through Sept. 7, like Dallas County, will have to drop at least one game from their 11-week schedule depending on when the first day of practice happens.
Highland Park, for example, had to drop games with Flower Mound Marcus and Plano Prestonwood Christian. Head coach Randy Allen added a game against Coppell but was still searching for a Week 4 opponent. District 7-5A-I moved all district games to the last six weeks, opening up an extra spot instead of a bye later on. That allowed Highland Park the chance to still play a 10-game season.
The UIL told schools that District Executive Committees could get creative to help fill schedule interruptions, but that’s a lot harder for 4A schools and below.
Carrollton Ranchview is one of 12 Dallas County schools at the 4A and below level facing a significantly shortened season. Those classifications will start on time and have 11 weeks to play 10 regular season games. But in Dallas County, those teams can’t start practice until Sept. 8, meaning they can’t play their first game until Oct. 1-3. Every other team in Ranchview’s district is scheduled to start on time.
Schools at the same level outside Dallas County have had to deal with different circumstances. Midlothian Heritage, for example, was searching for three new games. Pilot Point, a 3A school, only needs one to complete its schedule.
Tarrant County, along with the city of Arlington and city of Burleson, has issued a similar order. Students will start the 2020-21 school year as they finished the last one, online only.
In-person instruction is scheduled to return on Sept. 28, which would mean losing at least the first five games of the original football season schedule and possibly one or two more games to allow players to practice with full pads and for teams to play a scrimmage.
Fort Worth area 4A schools include Kennedale, Dunbar, Benbrook, Carter-Riverside, Eastern Hills, Western Hills, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, Castleberry and Lake Worth.
Over 40 other schools in Tarrant County and the city of Burleson are in 6A and 5A.
While most of the 4A-1A schedule can still go as planned, one of the biggest new dates comes for 6A-5A football state championships. The UIL has pushed those games back to January 2021 with specific dates still to be determined.
SHS will only have one scrimmage against Jacksboro on August 20th. Coach Smart is hoping there will not be any other changes in the schedule. On Monday, he had to postpone both football parent meetings for SHS on July 27th and SMS (August 10th), because of the Denton County Health Organization recommendation.
Denton County released new workout guidelines specific to Denton County schools. “We need to research before we have our meeting, Smart said in a letter to parents on Monday. “The guidelines are more strict than the ones we’ve been working under from the UIL.”
Coach Smart anticipates that Denton County and the UIL will release new guidelines this week. The 9-12th grades parent meeting was moved to Thursday, July 30 at 6 p.m. at the high school stadium. If a parent cannot attend, please email coach Smart for an overview of things covered to email@example.com. The middle school meeting will now be on Monday, August 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the middle school cafeteria, or parking lot by the middle school weight room.
High School practice for Class 4A and under programs is set to take place on Monday, August 3rd for football, volleyball and cross country.