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With the coronavirus pandemic having already wiped out the spring scholastic athletic season and cast doubt as to when athletics can return, the executive committee of the New Jersey Football Coaches Association met on Thursday night and outlined three potential start dates for the 2020 high school football season.

According to a report by NorthJersey.com, the NJFCA proposed the most hopeful option as August 1, which would keep the preseason and regular season on schedule with no changes. Currently, the NJSIAA has the first official day of practice/heat acclimatization as Aug. 3 for teams playing in Week 0 (Aug. 28) and Aug. 10 for teams playing Week 1 (Sept. 3-5).

If Aug. 1 is not viable, Aug. 17 is the second date. That would eliminate the Week 0 games, according to St. Peter’s Prep head coach and athletic director Rich Hansen, who is a member of the executive committee and also the president of the North Jersey Super Football Conference.

The third option is Sept. 1, which would push the start of the regular season to Sept. 24.

The regular season could be shortened or the postseason could be eliminated depending on the start date.

All of these options work under the assumption that schools can return to in-person learning in some capacity in the fall.

“The governor’s office, through the Department of Health and Department of Education, are going to drive the bus on this,” Hansen told NorthJersey.com. “We just want to be as prepared as possible to follow the guidelines they set forth, whenever that happens.”

Aside from the governor’s office easing restrictions, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has the final say on when the season can begin. Hansen said the NJFCA’s plans are pro-active recommendations.

“We just wanted to give the state some options, pending the governor’s decision and the Department of Education’s decision in the coming weeks,” Hansen said. “And hopefully these options match what they have in mind and the mandates and guidelines that are going to come down the pike.”

The NJFCA held the meeting through the Zoom videoconferencing platform, which allows a maximum of 100 participants. That left many coaches unable to attend, including Middletown South head coach Steve Antonucci, who is the lone Shore Conference coach on the executive committee. Antonucci said another meeting is planned for Friday night.

Shore Sports Network Director Kevin Williams spoke with Middletown School District athletic director and Shore Conference President Rich Carroll on Friday.

“It’s simply a waiting game at this point,” Carroll said. “It’s May 8 and we just shut down the spring season. We’re trying to finish out school years; administrators are worried about graduation and things like that. As far as the Shore Conference, we actually just schedule for next spring, which we did virtually, so we’re preparing like life is going on. Everything (for the fall) is set to go so now it’s just 'sit and wait'.”

“It’s going to be a long summer as to what the fall will look like. How do we handle fans? What if we have a case of the coronavirus? There’s going to be a lot of questions to answer over the summer.”

 

 

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.