LHSAA approves high school football contact practices; moves up official kickoff date

LHSAA approves high school football contact practices; moves up official kickoff date
The LHSAA is expected to officially announce a start date for high school football. (Source: Josh Auzenne/WAFB-TV)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The LHSAA executive committee has approved a plan to allow high school football contact drills to begin pretty much immediately and voted to start the season a week earlier than proposed.

LHSAA announces new official start date, other changes

LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine confirmed the committee is allowing players to start hitting on Thursday, September 10, and moved the official start of the season up to Thursday, October 1 through Saturday, October 3. The decision was based on a report by Dr. Greg Stewart of Tulane, the chairman of the LHSAA’s Sports Medicine Committee. The initial proposal was to start games on October 8.

Teams are allowed to play scrimmages September 24, 25, 26 but there will be no jamborees. The schedule was adjusted so that teams will start their seasons against their original week three opponent and they will play eight regular season games. The playoff format is unchanged. There will be five weeks of playoffs. The Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic will be held in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 26, 27, and 28. It is not yet known what the capacity will be.

The LHSAA will create guidelines like other surrounding states have done to keep athletes safe during the pandemic. A schedule must also be finalized. Some of the possible guidelines focus on temperature checks before every game or if there is a COVID-19 outbreak at school or with a team, contact tracing will be used.

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State officials really think the issue will be in the stands. Bonine said attendance at LHSAA events will continue to evolve based on changing COVID-19 guidelines on gathering in groups, which comes from the state, but as of now, the plan is to allow 50% capacity.

Select schools have rejoined the non-select schools for this season and will participate in the Prep Classic but the divisions/classes remain separate. The decision was made to play all of the championship games at one venue.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has said that he’s okay with the sport moving forward as long as the LHSAA believes it is safe to do so.

Bonine said he knows there will be hiccups and officials will make adjustments based on the situation. He said teams will not be penalized for forfeitures and rescheduling of games will be allowed.

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