TSSAA considering four options for upcoming football season

KEVIN CREASY

The TSSAA Board of Control discussed Wednesday four scenarios for the 2020 high school football season, with all three having a start date of Sept. 18.

The discussion came two days after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee's announcement that he was extending the state of emergency until Aug. 29 due to the COVID-19 virus.

The result means high school football and soccer teams can't have any contact, nor can they compete in 7-on-7 passing tournaments at this time. They can resume conditioning and weight lifting beginning July 6.

The TSSAA also is seeking to be exempt from the governor's order and start on time but still presented the following four options for the upcoming season. The Board will meet again on July 8 to decide which option will be used in 2020:

1. If the executive order expires on Aug. 29, practice would begin on Aug. 30 with the first game on Sept. 18. All regular season schedules for schools would be replaced by the state office with a seven-week region schedule for all schools. Playoffs would be conducted as usual, but schools that do not make the playoffs would be able to play two extra games after the regular season.

2. All regular season schedules for schools would be replaced by the state office with an eight-week region schedule. The regular season would extend into Week 12 and the first-round of the playoffs would be eliminated (only region champions and runners-up would qualify). Teams that do not qualify for the playoffs would be able to play two extra games after the regular season.

3. Schools would keep their current schedule and begin play with the Week 5 game on September 18. Games scheduled against member schools for Week 3 would be played in Week 12. Games scheduled against member schools for Week 4 would be played in Week 13. Only region champions would advance to the playoffs beginning in Week 14. Schools that do not qualify for the playoffs would be able to play one extra game.

4. Cancel playoffs and championships. Start practice on August 30. Schools play games as scheduled beginning with Week 5 games on September 18. Move games against member schools from Weeks 1-4 to Weeks 12-15.

The Board will meet again on July 8 to make a decision regarding football.

"I'm kind of one of those guys that likes to play 10 games and the round of playoffs and have a championship before Christmas," Oakland coach Kevin Creasy said. "I suggested to the coaches that we play eight games (option 2) and four rounds of playoffs might be a good compromise.

"Only the top two in the region make the playoffs, but if you don't make the playoffs you can still play a bowl game or two exhibition games."

Rockvale coach Rick Rice said the more games played the better.

"The one I like best is the more can we can play the more I like it," he said. "The more we play would best for us. What I really like, though, is the idea of the top two teams in the region going to playoffs. I've never been a big fan of four going, but I understand why they do it. Hopefully whatever they vote on is what's best for the kids."

Riverdale coach Will Kriesky said he prefers option 1 or 2 moving forward.

"I'd like to see the kids to get as many games as possible," he said."Option 1 was a good option and 2 would be another possibility. As long as the kids get a change, I'll take any option."

Eagleville coach Floyd Walker said he just wants to get back on the field.

"The one (scenario) that I like isn't on there," Eagleville coach Floyd Walker said. "Back it up and play your schedule. If you can't play all of your games, just take the region champion and go play. We only have five region games and some have less than that. The main thing is you get to play. It's at the point now you have your opinion, but if the kids get to play it doesn't really matter."

Both Creasy and Rice agreed that three weeks of contact would be enough time to get ready for an opener on Sept. 18.

"Us coaches sometimes don't get enough credit," Creasy said. "We are professionals and we don't want to beat our kids up and put them through physical practices. We want to get to the season. We're teaching tackling and blocking more than anything, so a three-week preseason would be fine for us.

Added Rice: "I think it's enough time. We had about three weeks to get ready in the old school days. I think coaches are smart enough to do what they can annd can't do. Other coaches might disagree, but I think it's more than enough time."

Regarding girls' soccer, the state office is exploring postponing the state championship to allow a few additional weeks for the regular season. Practice could begin on Aug. 30, with the potential to extend the season and conduct the state championships a few weeks later than usual.

Golf, volleyball and cross country seasons will be able to start on time if the executive order expires Aug. 29.

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