Tag: New England

A Note From The Noontime Sports Desk

By Matt Noonan

Allow me to be one of many – yes, I know I am not the first – to wish you a Happy New Year!

Let’s hope for a much better year than last year, and yes, 2020.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020, I, like many, was caught off guard – what the heck am I going to cover?

To be honest, I did not know what to do with so many games, practices, and tournaments being sent to the sidelines. But I knew we would persevere.

Over the last year or so, I, like many under the creative umbrella, have found ways to engage with our audience by identifying new stories to tell (or share) – sometimes, I was lucky to record interviews in-person (think football coverage last fall) and through our new virtual reality of Zoom and FaceTime.

I am proud of what I, along with Mia Len, Brian Willwerth, Andrew Pezzelli, and Zach Weiss, were able to provide for you, our fans, and friends, through our blog, podcast, and social media channels. And I hope what we produced – or created? – left you eager for more.

All four individuals listed above were instrumental in keeping our engine roaring, as well as providing me with that much-needed boost to keep churning out a variety of content, even if it wasn’t the usual post or podcast about small colleges and high schools in New England.

I love New England; it is my home and where I have lived and worked for a little more than three decades. This region will certainly remain the focus of our coverage, along with the occasional story or interview from other pockets of the United States. And maybe, just maybe, we will be lucky to tell a story from another country – never say never!  

With a new year comes new ideas and thoughts, along with hope for better days – I am an optimist, 2022 must be better than 2021, right? 2022 will mark a new chapter of content and coverage for Noontime Sports.

I am excited to pursue some new avenues and paths that may not always be sports or athletics-focused, but that is totally fine with me. Additionally, we will continue to tell a variety of stories through our podcast — some shows will feature myself blabbing about one, two, or a few topics while others may include a guest or round table. It has been so much fun hosting and producing a podcast, especially last year, and I certainly hope you will stop by our Anchor page to listen to one of our 156 shows.

Our social media accounts will not disappear – don’t worry, they won’t be silent for too long and will be populated shortly with new links, graphics, photos, and videos. And if you’re not following us on social media, hopefully, this post will inspire you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Change is never easy; we all know that. But I believe it is time to open the playbook and tell some different stories than we have in the past. We will certainly keep our eyes on the teams, programs, and athletes we have covered over the last few years, but again, I think it is time to flex those creative muscles and have some fun.

As I conclude this “so-called” state of Noontime Sports, I want to personally thank everyone that has stopped by the site, listened to our podcast, and consumed at least one or many of our videos. As I said, New England is a special place filled with so many amazing people, and I truly appreciate everyone’s continued support and excitement for our coverage.

2022 will mark 13 years of Noontime Sports – crazy, right? – but again, being an optimist (and someone that smiles and laughs too much), I believe this new chapter will be filled with some amazing memories and moments with new and old friends.

Happy New Year (again) – let’s make 2022 a great year, everyone!

High School Football Returns Tonight In Utah

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The Herriman High School Mustangs will kickoff their 2020 football season on Thursday, August 13. (PHOTO COURTESY: Herriman High’s Facebook Page)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Believe it or not, the 2020 high school football season will kick off this evening in Utah with Herriman High School hosting Davis High School at 7 p.m. And for those itching to listen to the game, you will be able to hear it on KJZZ.

In normal times, this game may be a blip on the radar with sports fans consuming either a Major League Baseball (MLB) game or a preseason National Football League (NFL) contest. But as we know, 2020 has and continues to be a strange year due to the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which means any sense of normalcy like a high school football game in Utah seems to be exactly what we need.

And in case you are not able to stream or watch tonight’s contest, more games will be played tomorrow night followed by a slew of contests next week, not just in Utah, but other parts of the country, including Alaska, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Here in New England, it appears high school football fans in four states – Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont – will be treated to some games at some point this fall, but of course, everything is fluid.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island high school football fans, as well as coaches and players, also hope to provide its fans with a season this fall, too, but nothing official has been announced from either state’s organization other than tentative plans. But according to a recent update from Dan Roche of WBZ, it seems unlikely that Massachusetts will play high school football this fall due to new guidelines “implemented from the state.”

Stay tuned, we will keep you posted if a high school football season, along with other sports, will occur this fall here in Massachusetts.

Four New England States Will Play High School Football This Fall

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Connecticut becomes the fourth New England state to allow high school football this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan 

The state of Connecticut became the fourth New England state to greenlight fall sports this afternoon, including football, despite the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19).

Today’s announcement from the nutmeg state follows a similar notification from Jay Nichols, who is the executive director for the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA), during Governor Phil Scott‘s press conference on Monday. But unlike Vermont, which plans to play seven-on-seven football this year, Connecticut will play tackle football.

Maine and New Hampshire will also allow tackle football to be played this fall, but those plans like Connecticut’s could change pending how each state continues to contain the virus.

Prior to this afternoon’s announcement regarding plans for fall sports, there seemed to be some momentum from the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) football committee to move the upcoming season to next February. But that plan was nixed after the organization heard from its various “stakeholders group” during today’s meeting.

“The major decisions (in deciding to go ahead with fall sports) was hearing from all of our stakeholder groups today,” said Glenn Lungarini, who is the executive director of the CIAC.

“We had an opportunity to continue to collaborate with all of our education stakeholders and hear directly from our medical advisory group, and at this point, they strongly feel that the COVID-metrics in Connecticut have not changed from when we approved the plan on July 30. (We believe) that it is safe to play all sports as scheduled right now with the mitigating factors that we have in place, including football.”

According to the CIAC website, high school football practices can begin as soon as next Monday, August 17 in cohorts of 15. Full team practices can start Friday, September 11 followed by scrimmages one week later (September 18).

The CIAC’s 2020 football season will start on Thursday, September 24 with teams being permitted to play a maximum of six contests. The final date for all teams to compete is Friday, October 30.

Following the conclusion of the 2020 regular season, the CIAC will provide its programs with a postseason from Monday, November 2 to Sunday, November 15.

13 States Will Not Play High School Football This Fall

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According to the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS), 13 states will not play football this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan

We all know playing football during a pandemic is risky – there is a lot of concern from both coaches and players regarding safety, especially when it comes to tackling or crouching in front of an opposing offensive or defensive player.

So it should come as no surprise that 13 states, including Californa, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon have decided to not allow its high schoolers to play football this fall, according to a recent update from the National Federation Of State High Schools Association (NFHS). That number is expected to increase, not just this week, but over the next few weeks as more organizations unveil plans for allowing student-athletes to return to playing field either later this month, next month, or at some point this fall.

There are some states planning to play football this year, including Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Louisana, and Michigan – there are others, of course – while here in New England, it seems to be an unknown if and how the sport could be played safely.

As of this morning, all six New England states seem to have some plans in place for allowing fall sports teams to startup after Labor Day – here in Massachusetts, the plan would be to allow programs to return to the practice field on Monday, September 14, but that date could change due to a recent uptick in coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

Three New England states – Connecticut, Maine, and New Hampshire – might be able to play high school football this fall, but all three seasons will be much shorter than usual.

Football in Rhode Island is a possibility – there is a schedule posted on the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) website, but according to the organization’s Tumblr page, no decision will be made on fall sports until Monday, August 17.

Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott said fall sports would occur during last Friday’s press conference but what does that actually mean for the state’s football programs is an unknown. If football is allowed in Vermont, expect it to look a bit different than usual. Maybe we would see flag football or 7 on 7 contests?

While there is so much uncertainty surrounding fall sports, especially high school football, one must remember that the situation is fluid and plans could change, not just here in New England, but in other parts of the country. More announcements on high school football, as well as other fall sports should be coming this week – keep your eyes on Ohio where Governor Mike DeWine is supposed to make a decision about all athletic events, including high schools and youth sports. 

Watching football on both Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons would certainly provide us all with a sense of normalcy, but as I mentioned during an op-ed piece on Friday, the thought of risking the health of not just student-athletes, coaches, team representatives, officials, parents, and community members is not worth it.

New England High School Sports Most Likely Won’t Start Until September

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High School fall sports could happen in New England, but a lot of unknowns remain. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

A few months ago, we started to debate if and when a college football season would occur. But that debate is slowly ending – as of now, most New England conferences and schools have elected to punt on the upcoming fall sports season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And while more decisions should be coming over the next few days and weeks – will Boston College really play football or soccer this fall? – the focus has quickly shifted to our local high school student-athletes, who are eager to return to the playing field.

High school sports abruptly ended in March due to stay-at-home orders and lockdowns so everyone could stay safe and healthy. But now, some states, including Florida and Georgia, are planning to allow teams to begin preparations for their respective seasons next week while Texas has informed two of its conferences (5A and 6A) that they won’t be holding any practices until early September.

Here in Massachusetts, high school sports cannot begin until Monday, September 14 while Maine won’t permit teams to begin their respective campaigns until Tuesday, September 8. And mind you, these dates are for practices, not games. 

New Hampshire should provide its student-athletes with some guidance and plans for a fall season over the next week or two, according to Ryan O’Leary of Seacoastonline.com, who recently spoke with Jeff Collins, who heads the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA).

Vermont is not planning to begin its fall season next month and most likely Connecticut and Rhode Island won’t allow any of its teams to practice in August either.

While many want to see our local student-athletes back on the field this year, one should remember that this pandemic has taught us the following: things can change pretty quickly. And while it should be viewed as a positive that all six committees are working tirelessly to develop plans and guidelines for their student-athletes to safely return to the field, it is not definite that all six New England states will begin their fall seasons on these exact dates.

Seeing our local high school sports teams in action this fall would certainly provide us with some sense of normalcy, but before any games or practices are held, the first step should be to find a way to safely return students, teachers, and principals to the classroom. And once that is done properly then sports, along with additional extracurricular activities should begin.