When the North Carolina High School Athletic Association announced last month that football would be moved to spring due to the Coronavirus, most of us thought of the move as a good thing.
One, we wouldn’t have to go entirely without a high school football season, and if fans are allowed to be in the bleachers, the schools could still take in some revenue.
But after the NCHSAA released the playoff guidelines and schedules for each sport for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, many are wondering if football in the spring is going to be a good move.
With basketball being played this school year ahead of football, many athletes that play both sports might not get the necessary time in on the gridiron that they normally do, meaning that they may not be as sharp as they would be at the beginning of a normal fall football season.
And, with the high school basketball playoffs running from February 23 through March 6, some football teams could be without those athletes for at least two of their seven regular season games.
East Lincoln head football coach David Lubowicz said that six players in his starting lineup also play basketball. Seeing how the Mustang hoopsters are a perennial playoff team, Lubowicz could be short handed in the early season.
Doesn’t basketball go through this every season?
Yes, in a way. But more often than not, the schools that generally make the football playoffs will delay the start of their basketball regular season a week or two on purpose. And, the basketball games that the two-way athletes miss in a normal season are usually non-conference games. The 2020-2021 high school football season is likely to be all conference games in most cases.
Lincolnton head football coach Joe Glass said he will have 10 players that participate in both football and basketball, including both of his quarterbacks and all but one wide receiver.
“Right now, the way it stands, if our basketball team made the playoffs and won the first round, we would have to forfeit our first game,” Glass said. The coach was informed later that day by the NCHSAA that those two-way athletes would be allowed to play two basketball games that week and a football game on Friday night if necessary, giving him some sense of relief.
Several North Carolina coaches that Glass had spoken to on Wednesday said they would be in the same situation. 1A and 2A schools rely on many two-sport athletes to fill the football and basketball rosters.
Glass also mentioned that he would have been fine without football playoffs in this COVID-19 affected season, and let all teams play more games. “Some will play 10 or 11,” said Glass, “but others will play only seven.”
Glass also said that he didn’t want multiple-sport athletes to have to choose which sport they play.
West Lincoln athletic director David Avery said he too has several athletes that play both basketball and football, and North Lincoln head football coach Nick Bazzle pointed out that six to seven of his players also play on the hardwood.
But all-in-all, most are happy to see a football season of some form. It will be different, and it will be at an odd time of year.
The biggest hope is that we all get back to normal by August of 2021.