RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - The high school football season will kick off in February, the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) announced Wednesday.
The NCHSAA released its full amended sports schedule Wednesday.
The first high school athletics of the 2020-21 school year will begin with practice for cross country and volleyball on Nov. 4.
Basketball practice will begin on Dec. 7, while lacrosse and men’s soccer will get underway on Jan. 11.
Football practice officially kicks off practice on Feb. 8 with the first games scheduled for Feb. 26. The football regular season will consist of a maximum of seven games.
At Hoggard High School, head football coach Craig Underwood said seven games are better than none.
“With all the cancellations you’re seeing at all levels of sports, just seeing that we have a date was really exciting and as a team, you know, our guys have been working hard and just giving them a landmark to work towards is something we’re really excited about,” he said.
Men’s and women’s golf, women’s soccer, softball and men’s tennis begin practice on March 1.
On April 12, baseball, women’s tennis, track and field and wrestling will begin to practice.
While postseason play is planned for all sports, those details are still being worked out.
“I applaud our staff and the members of the board of directors for approving a 2020-2021 sports calendar that we believe provides us the most realistic chance of providing interscholastic athletic opportunities for our students while at the same time balancing the challenges of our new academic setting,” said Que Tucker, commissioner of the N.C. High School Athletic Association. ”Our decision-making process has been very deliberate and has been very careful...and you might say, its been calculated.
“Why? We know we must do everything we can to insure the health and safety of all student athletes, coaches and administrators during this unprecedented time.”
It’s also unclear whether fans will be allowed at sporting events when they do resume.
Tucker says guidance from the state on the re-opening of North Carolina and rules for outdoor and indoor events will govern what schools are advised and allowed to do.
Underwood applaud’s the association’s work.
“I think they’re making the most of a very difficult situation,” he said.
Many schools will face challenges with the sharing of facilities, like the football field at Hoggard High School which will be used for football, soccer and lacrosse simultaneously. Some athletes may face unique challenges if they participate in multiple sports, but that has always been the case for some whose seasons overlap.
Tucker says winter basketball tournaments are unlikely, as are matches with several teams at once as there are likely to be participation limits and concerns about gatherings, transportation, social distancing and maintaining cleanliness.
“The calendar,” Tucker said, “is a starting point for figuring out how to make it work.”
“It’s good to know something,” said Hoggard High School Volleyball Coach Ron Strickland. “In a state of unknown it’s very difficult to plan and this at least lets us plan.”
The amended schedule can be seen below: