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.

Vermont Cancels High School Spring Sports

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Vermont becomes the fifth New England state to cancel its high school spring sports season. (PHOTO COURTESY: Visualhunt.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Earlier this month, the Vermont Principals Association seemed hopeful they could provide their high school student-athletes with a spring sports season. But as of Thursday morning, the VPA announced they have canceled the season due to its state’s “Stay Home Stay Safe” order. 

As noted in a press release on the VPA website, both the organization and its Activities Standards Committee delayed their announcement regarding spring sports with “hopes that some version of a season could be salvaged, but now it is too close to the end of the school year for that to occur.”

Vermont becomes the fifth New England state to cancel its high school sports seasons after Maine and New Hampshire called off their respective seasons earlier this month. Massachusetts and Rhode Island canceled their high school spring seasons last week, while Connecticut announced it would not have a state tournament.

As of this morning, Connecticut remains the only New England state likely to have a high school spring season, but it would only occur if schools were to reopen before the current academic years expires. If Connecticut were to have a high school spring sports season, it would only occur in June.

MIAA, RIIL Cancels Spring Sports

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Four New England states have canceled high school spring sports. (VISUALHUNT.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island joined Maine and New Hampshire by canceling its state’s spring high school sports season this afternoon.

The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) both shared this news on their respective Twitter accounts.

Both states are abiding by the advice of Governors Charlie Baker and Gina Raimondo, who have ordered both Massachusetts and Rhode Island to conclude their respective academic schools years online, not in-person.

Connecticut has not canceled its spring sports season, but the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) announced yesterday they will “not run any spring state championship events.” The CIAC could, however, have a regular-season in June, but that would only occur if schools reopen. Connecticut is not scheduled to reopen until May 20.

The Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) will make an announcement regarding its spring sports season on Thursday, April 30.

Maine and New Hampshire announced the cancelations of its states’ spring sports season earlier this month.