Area coaches are excited about the announcement that high school football season will start as planned Aug. 20-22 and that teams have the option to start fall practice as early as Monday.
The AHSAA Central Board on Wednesday approved an on-time return to play and released the protocols each state team will have to follow.
The ultimate decision about whether teams will take the field this fall will be determined by local school systems.
Fayetteville head coach John Limbaugh is elated about the decision that was made. He also praised how Talladega County Board of Education leadership has handled this pandemic.
“It is good that the kids get to play football,” Limbaugh said. “I really think our county and our superintendent are taking the lead on this.
“We are doing a great job, all of our schools are, and I am excited about that.”
With the uncertainty of what the season was going to look like, Limbaugh said he spent a lot of time preparing his team for whatever it may face.
“I heard Gene Chizik say predict nothing and plan for everything,” Limbaugh said. “That's what we have been doing at Fayetteville.
“We have been planning for our year and we are looking forward to it. I know the kids are excited. We start practice on Monday.”
First-year head coach Skylar Mansfield is grateful he is going to have the chance to lead Winterboro on the field this fall.
“I'm just excited to be able to coach a game as a head coach,” Mansfield said. “ As of right now, I get the opportunity to line a team up on the field and play football … it is exciting to know that's what's ahead right now.”
Mansfield, who took over at Winterboro in June, doesn’t think it will be a problem for the players and coaches to follow the new COVID-related guidelines on and off the field.
“No. 1, we have to provide a safe environment for the kids,” Mansfield said. “It is just a blessing for this senior class to have this opportunity, so with that being said, I really think the kids will follow the social distancing guidelines in order to keep everybody safe.”
Talladega head coach Shannon Fielder is happy his team will have a chance to start preparation for the season via the opening of fall camp Monday.
“I wanted us to be able to play,” Fielder said. “The guys are excited as well because it has been in limbo even though we heard that we were going to play.
“You start hearing about other systems and other states not going to play, you start to wonder if it is going to start happening here.”
It will not be sports or school as normal this fall. The Talladega City Board of Education announced Thursday school for the first nine weeks will be virtual.
Felder noted he has had proponents of both on-campus school and virtual classes via technology give him their opinion on how the kids should start the school year.
“I saw a few students at the store and some of the restaurants that we (the coaches) normally visit on our lunch break,” he said. “Some of the seniors were like, ‘This is my last year. I want to be able to go to school.’ There are some parents that said that they will feel a little bit safer if we started the kids out doing it virtually and returning to school down the line.
“I see both sides of it, but for me, I enjoy seeing the kids’ faces on a daily basis, so if I don't see them during the day, I will see them at practice. I am excited to see the kids, work with them and help those kids that want to play at the next level.”