High School Football

Members of the Jackson Ironmen and Athens Bulldogs square off at the line of scrimmage during a game on Sept. 6, 2019. The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association has submitted a proposal for a possible return to play on the gridiron for the 2020 season.

High school football in 2020 will certainly look different, if indeed a season is able to take place this fall.

The Ohio High School Football Coaches Association put together a proposal that offers a glimpse into how practices and games might occur.

The OHSFCA submitted a restart proposal to safely restart the 2020 season. The proposal will be sent to Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio High School Athletic Association, where modifications might occur.

The proposal, sent out to head coaches on Tuesday, was put together by coaches of the organization and medical professionals.

“These changes include, but are not limited to, practices, travel, and the game day procedures in accordance with the Governor’s Responsible Restart Ohio Initiative and the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control,” the proposal read.

The 38-page proposal covers modifications to practices and game days, as well as a response plan if a player tests positive for COVID-19.

The organizations proposes that players report to practices at staggered times, with health checks occurring upon arrival. Daily temperature checks will be part of the pre-practice routine.

Players will be divided into groups of nine or less. The practice periods will be limited to nine minutes for different pods. Teams can have 11 on 11 full contact sessions, but each offensive and defensive segment can’t last more than nine minutes. The suggestion is a reduction from the 12 minutes per day of 11 on 11 drills teams currently abide by.

Other suggestions are no practice lasting more than three hours during the preseason, and 2 hours and 15 minutes being the limit during the season. Two hours is the limit for each practice during a two-a-day setting.

On game days, the coach’s box would extend for 80 yards — from 10-yard line to 10-yard line — with players socially distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available on the sidelines, and mandatory breaks would occur every six minutes of play. Halftime is suggested to last only 12 minutes, instead of 20.

Visiting teams would be recommended to arrive to the game already in uniform, if possible. Players would wear masks on the bus, with no more than one player sitting in a seat.

Locker room use should be kept to a minimum, with players using a rotation system so social distancing can occur.

The traditional postgame handshake line would not occur, with players being encouraged to leave the field immediately after post game meetings with coaches.

Players testing positive for COVID-19 would not be permitted to return to team activities until meeting CDC requirements for ending self-isolation. Any opponents faced three days prior to the onset of the player’s symptoms would be notified.

The OHSAA has stated that it plans on fall sports practices to begin on Aug. 1. Official return to play guidelines will have to be released by the organization before then, but members of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association have put a positive foot forward toward a potential return to football this fall.

“We understand the important work being done to protect all Ohioans, and we present this as a working document that may require additional action, and the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association stands ready to work with the Governor, his taskforce, and the Ohio High School Athletic Association to ensure a high school football season this fall in our great state,” the proposal concludes.

Email at kwiseman@athensmessenger.com; follow on Twitter @KevinWmessenger

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