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High school football: Schools in Hall plan on starting season on time, despite 'fluid' pandemic concerns
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Johnson High football players get instruction from coach William Harrell Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, at the school's practice field as the team prepares for the start of the 2020 football season. - photo by Scott Rogers

Good news, football fans: despite what you may have heard, schools in Hall County plan on playing football, starting September 4. 

However, as everything during the coronavirus pandemic, things remain ‘fluid’, as stated Monday by Hall County schools director of communications and athletics, Stan Lewis. 

The Georgia High Schools Association has stated that individual counties will be allowed to make their own policies for fall sports. There is no consensus across the state. As reported Monday in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, 67 schools will not be playing as originally scheduled Labor Day weekend, due to lingering coronavirus concerns. 

Riverside Military Academy announced in May that all of its fall sports were cancelled. School systems that have further delayed the season include Clayton County, Fulton County, Decatur City Schools, Bibb County and Newton County, among many others.

Gainesville High also plans to open the season the same night, but is still seeking an opponent, due to an extended delay by Fulton County Schools. The Red Elephants will miss out on games against John’s Creek in Week 1 and Chattahoochee the following week. However, as Gainesville coach Heath Webb stated last week, it is actively looking for two new teams to play. 

Lewis stated that Hall County athletic directors are in regular meetings and expect guidelines for attendance to be coming shortly. While not divulging details, plans will not allow for a packed house. However, most people can understand the precaution due to unprecedented times. 

Flowery Branch athletics director Jimmy Lawler noted that county schools plans are coming together for fans to be able to stream games online, along with being able to listen to games broadcast live by Jacobs Media and Glory-1330. 

And restrictions on fan attendance will directly impact gate revenue. However, Lewis maintained there are no plans to cut sports, due to any financial hardships. 

Lawler stresses that fans will be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing, but encouraged to attend as long as they feel safe doing so. 

Flowery Branch’s athletic director said that the decision made by Hall County schools starts with strong leadership at the top. 

“I told Stan today how much I appreciate him and (superintendent) Will Schofield to give our opinion and what we think we can do,” Lawler said. “They listen to what the athletic directors have to say. 

“Stan Lewis’ leadership has been incredible.”

With the two-week delay to the season that the GHSA announced on July 22, East Hall and Chestatee will be the last to open the season on September 11.

All preseason games were cancelled August 5 by the state’s governing body for high school athletics.

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