What would no high school football season mean to communities?

Mercer County coach David Buchanan says his community has faced bigger challenges than COVID-19 and persevered. (Larry Vaught Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

While speculation continues about whether there will be a 2020 college football season, the same is true for the high school season. No one yet knows when high school sports will resume, either, due to COVID-19.

That made me wonder what impact coaches thought it would have on their communities if there was no high school football this fall.

“I think our schools and communities have already been hit hard by all the cancellations and social distancing. If we are still in this situation two months from now, I think high school sports will be the least of our worries,” Danville coach Clay Clevenger said.

“Being a small school that prides itself on being competitive academically as well as athletically it would be a major blow to our school not to play football,” Somerset coach Robbie Lucas said. “Our spring athletes have been crushed by not being able to compete … my youngest daughter is a softball player. As a coach its very difficult to see the hard work of those athletes and coaches not be realized.”

Adrian Morton expects to have 31 seniors on his team at Ballard and the team is also supposed to be playing in a new stadium in Louisville.

“After playing every game on the road last season, our guys really want their careers to end on a positive memory,” Morton said. “They deserve to have a senior night and hear the home fans cheer for them and I really want them to have that moment.”

Casey County coach Steve Stonebraker, who is also the school’s athletics director, was “heartbroken” when his girls basketball team won a game at the state tourney and then had the season suspended as well as the spring sports season.

“I can’t imagine losing a season when I was an athlete. There are certainly greater tragedies in life, but I don’t know of anyone who would rejoice in kids losing an opportunity to participate in athletics that they can’t get back,” Stonebraker said.

First-year Frederick Douglas coach Nathan McPeek might have more future Division I players on his roster than any other coach in Kentucky.

“I think it would be a morale killer (if there is no season) but we can’t sacrifice lives, and put people in harm’s way. I would be very upset personally not to have a season with our seniors of 2021 but spring sport coaches are dealing with that heartbreak for the 2020 seniors currently,” McPeek said.

“I think football is so important in the country and such a financial profit for so many schools/communities it would be a major disappointment but safety must be first.”

Mercer County coach David Buchanan said no football would be “disappointing and tough” but notes that Mercer is the “home” of the Harrodsburg Tankers of the Bataan Death March in World War II. Only 37 of the 66 National Guard members deployed survived Japanese captivity and there is a memorial in their honor in Harrodsburg.

“Our community has faced much bigger challenges and answered the bell heroically. Whatever we have to do, we will do it and do it well,” Buchanan said.

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