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GHSA votes in favor of playing all fall sports, two week delay for football to start 2020
Regular season for football will begin September 4
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Flowery Branch running back Jaizen Ellingham carries the ball for the Falcons with Gainesville High's Ethan Reeves, left, and Ken Hester moving in for the tackle Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, scoring the first points of the game during the first half of their game at The Branch. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Georgia High Schools Association made it heard loud and clear Monday that football, softball, cross country and volleyball will go on as planned this fall. 

Whether or not that stays in place is another story, given these are unprecedented times with a coronavirus pandemic that has impacted millions of Americans. 

After a 12-0 vote by its board of directors, the state’s governing body for high school athletics said football would go on a two-week delay before the regular season starts, while other fall sports would start as previously scheduled.

“I’m so excited but don’t want to get too excited,” North Hall volleyball coach Emi Hughes said. “We’ve got a pretty young program so they are chomping at the bit to get going.

“After everything these kids have gone through, the camaraderie with sports is going to be huge for everyone.”

The delay for only football is peculiar to some in Hall County, but not necessarily bad after all 10 programs playing in the fall missed out on valuable spring conditioning time in April and May. 

“I was not that concerned that we would lose the season,” said Gainesville football coach Heath Webb, who has scrimmages planned against Discovery (originally planned for the spring) and Winder-Barrow next month. “Inside word was that the GHSA would do any and everything to make sure we would have a season. 

“I was a little concerned that we might not have been ready for the original start date. We could have pulled it off, but I’m not sure how good the football would have been.”

“I think they (GHSA) did a good job of crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s before making a decision,” Chestatee football coach Shaun Conley added.

Georgia joins a growing list of states that have pushed back the start of the fall sports, including South Carolina, Mississippi, Arizona, Hawaii and one week in West Virginia.

In Virginia, football has been ruled out in the fall. 

California is pushing football back to the spring. 

Texas has yet to decide what to do, but expected a decision as early as Monday.

In Georgia, Hall County ranked fifth in the state with 4,394 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths, which is well behind the four largest metropolitan Atlanta counties (Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb and DeKalb).

Football practice will open July 27 with the first week strictly as an acclimation period, which is standard. 

Full practice will begin August 1.

After that, it’s still up in the air whether the ruling about fall sports stands, despite overwhelming approval by those with a vote in Thomaston. A steady spike in coronavirus cases in July across the state left many wondering if fall sports were a risk worth taking. 

“It’s positive news that fall sports are going forward, but we’re still not out of the woods,” Gainesville athletics director Adam Lindsey said.

North Hall football coach David Bishop was already measuring out its football locker room Monday to make sure they gave ample space for adequate social distancing. He said with about 72 players on the Trojans’ roster, changing in and out of football gear in more than one shift was not out of the question. 

Many issues with logistics that go with football are still up in the air. The GHSA has yet to outline fan attendance guidelines or equipment protocols.

However, a victory came with the ruling that fall sports were going to happen in 2020. 

Let’s get ready for kickoff. 

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