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Coaches look ahead after state schools boss says sports will return in fall

Munford head coach Michael Easley during Talldaega County Media Day 2019

Munford head coach Michael Easley speaks during the 2019 Talladega County football media day. 

MUNFORD -- There are still several unknowns regarding what the 2020-21 academic year will look like, but state schools Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey did make one thing known in a press conference Friday morning.

“We will have extracurricular activities,” Mackey said. “They will look different. We are still working through that.”

Mackey was joined by State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in the joint press conference.

The activities slated to return in the fall are football, volleyball, cheerleading and band.

The spring sports season ended abruptly in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and schools went to virtual learning for the rest of the academic year.

Athletes were finally able to return June 1 throughout the state. The Talladega County Board of Education allowed students to return June 6 with several restrictions.

Mackey said he has worked closely with AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese multiple times a week throughout the pandemic to discuss what he heard other states are doing.

Mackey said the protocols for the season would include cleaning equipment as often as possible, limiting numbers on the sideline during games as well as possibly extending the player box on the sideline to ensure players and coaches are practicing social distancing.

Munford head football coach Michael Easley was optimistic about the 2020 season happening, so he went ahead and ordered pull-down masks for his team.

“We are going to start going ahead and work out in them in July,” Easley said. “We have them with us every day at workouts, but we don't make kids run in them because it is not the most ideal thing. 

“As long as you keep your distance, you are good. We are going to wear masks at all times if we are on school grounds. We are going to prepare if we have to play in them.”

Sylacauga head coach Andrew Zow said the Aggies are working hard to prepare for the upcoming season, but they are taking a cautious approach.

“I am working, the kids are working and the coaches are working,” Zow said. “The administration is going to make sure that we are in the right place. 

“I think we still have to be careful, but at the same time we are anxious to play ball, coach ball and get back to some kind of normal life. 

“It is tough right now, but we have to do our due diligence to make sure we practice safe distancing the best we can. If we are going to get back to football, we are going to have to open this thing up the best we can, and at the same time, be careful.”

Talladega County Central head coach Chris Mahand heard what he expected when it came to education and athletics Friday. 

Mahand said he is going to go by every protocol to ensure that his players, coaches and all of their families stay safe during trying times.

“It is a difficult situation that is unusual in that nobody has seen this situation in 100 years,” Mahand said. “Nobody dealing with this situation was even born the last time we had something this critical happen. 

“It is just a situation that we are going to have to deal with, learn from and work through. That's what we are going to do.”

The 2020 football season is slated to start Aug. 20. Fall practice will begin a week early this season -- July 27.

LaVonte Young is the Sports Editor for The Daily Home. Contact him at lyoung@dailyhome.com or follow him on Twitter @LYoung_DHSports.

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