Amid uncertainty, Section II hoping for 10-game football schedule, but area playoffs ‘up in the air’

Fall sports start date has been pushed back to Sept. 21 by NYSPHSAA
Shenendehowa's Jacob DiRienzo carries the ball during a Nov. 1 game against Christian Brother Academy.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Shenendehowa's Jacob DiRienzo carries the ball during a Nov. 1 game against Christian Brother Academy.

Categories: High School Sports, Sports

While there will be no state high school football tournament this fall, Section II teams could still find themselves playing for league and possibly area titles.

The key word here is ‘could,’ with the season’s status still to be determined.

“We are waiting for the governor to give us guidance,” Section II football coordinator and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk athletic director Bob Dorrance said. “We have no clear picture where we’re headed.”

But Section II’s football leadership has made tentative plans for the fall campaign that two weeks ago had its start date pushed back from Aug. 24 to Sept. 21 by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.

“The [Section II] football committee is hoping to get in 10 games,” Dorrance said.

Those tentative plans keep intact the league schedules that were released in early May, and would have Section II teams playing into the first week of December.

“Sept. 21 is the official start date,” Dorrance said. “We can eliminate the ‘Week Zero’ games and the scrimmages [that were originally slated for Sept. 4-5], and after 10 days of practice, we can go into Week 1 of our schedule. The 10th week would be December 3rd and 4th which was when the state championships would have been held.”

The NYSPHSAA announced that there would be no state-level competition this fall on the same day it pushed back the fall starting date. The NYSPHSAA also introduced a potential three-season plan that would begin in January, with 10 weeks slotted first for winter sports (Jan. 4-March 13) then fall sports (March 1-May 8) and then for spring sports (April 5-June 12), if sports this fall are called off due to coronavirus concerns.

“Without state and regional championships [this fall], we do have the ability to do culminating events later in the season,” Shenendehowa athletic director Chris Culnan said. “It gets cold outside, but you can play until it snows.”

Whether the Section II football season would include any kind of playoffs for the five classifications has yet to be determined.

“As far as sectionals, that is still up in the air,” Dorrance said.

The fall season could possibly include only low-risk sports like cross country, golf, tennis and swimming, low- and moderate-risk sports that include volleyball, soccer and field hockey, all sports, or no sports at all, depending on what state government and health officials deem appropriate in the coronavirus environment.

“If we lose the fall season or we can’t play as a high-risk sport, the plan is to play next year in the three-season set up,” Dorrance said. “We would have to determine how long the season would be and if we have to modify the schedule.”

Culnan said with so much uncertainty surrounding the fall season, schedules for the remaining sports cannot be fully determined until Section II schools find out what they are allowed to do and not do once mandates are determined from higher state authorities.

“We have to be ready to pivot to whatever the circumstances are,” Culnan said.

Culnan said league play will be a focus this fall, and more teams could find themselves playing on Sundays due to the shortness of the season and daylight savings time on Nov. 1. Moreover, he said there are concerns with transportation and availability of game officials.

“Every athletic director uses the months of July and August to get recharged for the school year, which is a marathon,” Culnan said. “None of us are getting recharged. Every day it’s something else. It’s a really challenging situation.”

Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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