After of plenty of back-and-forth, there will be high school football in Connecticut this year after all.
Len Corto, New Britain’s athletic director and member of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Committee football committee, said the CIAC’s plan remains the same one it set on Monday, with the season starting Oct. 1 and ending Nov. 22.
“Everything is status quo,” Corto said on Wednesday, but still stressed things are still fluid. “You could start conditioning on Monday, some did and some didn’t. Now, we’re back on it and hopefully we can get some kind of season in.”
Southington head coach Mike Drury first heard of the announcement through a number of his football contacts and was ecstatic by the news. He and a number of his players hosted a rally at the CIAC’s headquarters in Cheshire last week to try and get some answers as to whether or not there was going to be a fall season.
“It’s great news considering all the hard news we’ve gotten lately,” Drury said. “We’ve had the kids the past several days this week and they still had a great mindset in terms of their work and preparation. There was no complaining. They were focused on the task at hand. This is a reassurance of everything they have been working for.”
The CIAC plans to make an announcement Thursday about the fall high school sports season according to multiple media reports.
Fall practices are set to begin on Saturday with full contact practices for football beginning Sept. 20 and games set for Oct. 1. Until then, teams will still be required to remain in cohorts of 10 for an hour - 30 minutes for skill work and 30 minutes for conditioning - due to the coronavirus pandemic, Corto said.
“We were prepared for that,” Drury said. “If we started Aug. 17, it was going to be the same deal, so there was really no difference in that in terms of how we are supposed to be practicing and progress through the preseason. In terms of pads and things like that, they’ll probably send us something for more guidance, but it will probably be similar to what they already given us for the timeline.”
The CIAC and Department of Health have gone back-and-forth regarding the state of high school sports.
The CIAC’s initial plan, which was released at the end of July, included a Sept. 23 start date for regular season competition and a limited postseason ending on Nov. 15. But the governing body paused all sports activities, including conditioning which began on July 6, on Aug. 14 it awaited a meeting with the DPH.
After nothing was resolved last Thursday following the student-athlete rally, the CIAC Board of Control announced on Sunday it was resuming non-contract practices Monday. In turn, the DPH recommended that football should be played in a 7-on-7 format and volleyball should be outside. The two are considered “high risk” sports in their current formats and a change would drop them down to “moderate.”
But the 7-on-7 format hasn’t been embraced by coaches. Drury and New Britain’s first year head coach Isaiah Boddie aren’t for it considering what it takes away.
“To me 7-on-7 is a preparing for football, it isn’t a part of football,” Boddie said. “You also exclude an important aspect of the game, which is guys who play linemen and special teams. What are they going to do? How are you going to keep them engaged and motivated? To me, it’s like lifting weights. You lift to prepare for football.”
Said Corto: “Seven-on-seven is a great thing for the quarterbacks, receivers, skills positions, defensive kids, but it’s not 11-on-11 football. You’re leaving a big part of football out. It’s like playing baseball and saying, ‘We’re not going to play games, but we’re going to do a home run derby every day.’ It’s just not the same. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some games in. That’s the goal.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com