Greenville High School football coach Quintarus McCray was happy to get the news Tuesday afternoon that his football team will now begin their season two weeks later on Sept. 4 on the road against Ruleville.
“I am excited to get some news,” Coach McCray said. “It could have been worse. It looks like we are still going to try and have a season.”
The Mississippi High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday to delay all fall sports two weeks. Football practice is now scheduled to begin Aug. 17. First matches for volleyball and cross country can start on August 24.
The committee voted that there will be no change to the playoff dates, which means the first two games on the schedule will likely not be made up.
The Hornets were scheduled to open the season with two home games. First against Gentry on August 21 and then against Clarksdale on August 28.
At O’Bannon High School, head football coach Lynn Lang said he was cautiously optimistic about the news.
“There is still so much up in the air,” Lang said. “Parents still have a lot of concerns, and you don’t know what your local school board is going to say.” “But, I will have my team ready to play. That is my job, and that is what I am going to do.”
Lang’s Greenwaves were scheduled to open the season Aug. 17 at Byhalia. The Waves already had a bye week scheduled for week two, and their new season opener will now be Sept. 4 at Amanda Elzy.
At Riverside High School, meanwhile, head football Coach Jim Risen said the news was encouraging for his coaching staff and his players.
“Even though everything is still sort of hypothetical, this does give us a framework to start from. Now, we have a timeframe, and now we can start organizing ourselves to be ready for that first game,” Coach Risen said.
Coach Risen’s Bulldogs will now start their season at home against Leland. The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to open the season with a pair of home games, against county foes St. Joseph Catholic School and Washington School.
“I hate that we are going to lose those games because we were expecting to have big crowds those first two weeks,” Coach Risen said.
MHSAA Executive President Kalvin Robinson said the board made the changes to give schools more time to get back into the routine of school.
“There are going to be many challenges — ones we’re anticipating and those we don’t even know about yet — in returning to on-campus learning. It’s going to be different than what we’ve experienced in the past. Hopefully pushing back the start of the Fall sports seasons will help make that transition a little smoother for everyone involved.”
MHSAA Executive Director Don Hinton supports the two-week delay as well as the board’s reasoning behind it.
“We believe this is the right decision at the right time,” Mr. Hinton said. “As we’ve said since last spring, this is an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation where new information can and will alter plans and schedules at any time.
“We’ve been in contact with officials from the Governor’s office and the Mississippi Department of Education. We’ve talked with sports administrators from Mississippi universities and community colleges as well as leaders from the National Federation (NFHS) and our neighboring state associations. All of us are looking for the best way to navigate these challenges and obstacles, but each us has our own challenges.
“For example, there’s been talk about the MHSAA flipping the fall and spring sports seasons or just moving fall sports — and specifically football — to the spring. But those changes would create an entirely different set of challenges and logistical issues, including an overlap with athletes, coaches and game officials.
“As far as swapping the Fall and Spring seasons, we’ve heard from many coaches and administrators who feel it would be unfair to ask the coaches and sports cancelled in April to turn around and play with all the challenges we’ll be facing this fall.”