The Blessed Trinity High School football team won the 2019 4A state championship.
The Blessed Trinity High School football team won the 2019 4A state championship.

Football teams across the state are  preparing for the worst and praying the pandemic won’t lead to a season without games, Georgia High School Association Executive Director Robin Hines said. 

The GHSA still has two months before a final decision on the 2020 season needs to be made so he remains hopeful. 

“I hate to talk about it. I don’t want to add to the angst that’s already out there,” he said.

On any given Football Friday in Georgia, one could conservatively estimate 200,000 fans are in hundreds of stadiums across the state with tens of thousands more watching on GPB. Collectively it’s a big business.

Much like its college football counterparts, the GHSA may be faced with decisions like delaying the start of the season, shortening the season, or perhaps not even playing the season at all.

“Losing the Fall season would be catastrophic,” explained Hines because like college football, high school football is critical to funding the other sports programs at most schools.

If football programs can start their strength and conditioning programs in the first or second weeks after the Fourth of July holiday, the season can be played as scheduled, he said.

“It would be hard if the first time we see our team is the first of August. That would mean putting on pads just two weeks later,” said Buford High School Coach Bryant Appling.

Hines also knows Appling is right from personal experience. Back in the early 1990s when he was the head coach at Westover High school, his team lost valuable off-season training time due to historic flooding in Albany. “I remember how difficult it was from a strength and conditioning standpoint,” Hines said. “It was almost like we had to play ourselves into shape.”

Blessed Trinity Coach Tim McFarlin is not only concerned about his team, but the fans. “How comfortable are fans going to feel about filling in the stands?” Although he doesn’t see games being played in empty stadiums, he said, “There are a lot of adjustments that are going to come out of the coronavirus crisis.”

In the meantime, many coaching staffs and players are staying connected via video conferencing. Coach Appling believes this is essential to his players learning the team’s offense and defense prior to finally being able to get back together. Meantime coaches are counting on players to work out on their own and stay in shape.

“Players are chomping at the bit,” Appling said.

McFarlin agrees, he said. “I’ve got kids who hate to go to class who now can’t wait to get back.”

This age of social distancing will create a greater emphasis on relationships and not taking them for granted, McFarlin said. “I look forward to being able to hug somebody again.”

When that day finally comes, blocking and tackling can’t be too far behind.