Will there be a 2020 season? High school coaches know it might not happen

Mercer County coach David Buchanan with UK players Josh Paschal, left, and Quinton Bohanan at a 2018 summer camp. (Larry Vaught Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Will there be a 2020 high school football season?

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, school and business closings, and other unknowns even high school coaches are now wondering about football season just like many major college football coaches are.

“I do have concerns about the 2020 season,” said Somerset coach Robbie Lucas, who led the Briar Jumpers to their first state title in the school’s 113-year history last season. “Difficult to gauge the odds with so much changing day to day.

“Hopefully things return to some type of normalcy in the near future. While things look bleak we will continue to prepare as if we will play.”

Casey County coach Steve Stonebraker, who is also the school’s athletics director, believes there is a “real risk of football being impacted” if things with COVID-19 have not changed by June.

“I don’t work for the CDC so I’m not going to pretend to be an expert there, but there are preseason practice provisions that must be met for players to participate (in sports),” Stonebraker said.

Coach Clay Clevenger, who led Danville to the 2017 state crown, believes if the pandemic is still impacting our country by September that there will be a “lot more bigger issues” than football to worry about.

“I would hate to lose any part of our season, but if that has to happen we have to deal with it and move on.  We have already had lots of kids and sports  cancelled at this point and senior spring sport athletes have lost the chance to participate this year,” Clevenger said. “While it’s not what any one wants, it is something that is real and we may have to deal with.”

Mercer County coach David Buchanan is an eternal optimist but admits the idea of no football does creep into his head.

“Do I really know or does anyone really know exactly how this will play out over the next two months, no,” Buchanan said.  “I am focused on staying connected as a team during this time and doing my job to prepare for the preseason and season.  As far as football goes, that is where my thoughts, energy, and time are concentrated.”

Ballard coach Adrian Morton expects to have 31 seniors on his 2020 team that hopes to be playing in a new stadium. He believes the high school football’s fate depends on two things — when school resumes and what the NFL does.

“Until they figure out if the NFL is playing, we won’t know of anything,” Morton said.

First-year Frederick Douglas coach Nathan McPeek has the state’s two highest rated juniors — offensive lineman Jager Burton and receiver Dekel Crowdus — and figures to have another state championship contender.

“I’m choosing to stay positive (about the upcoming season) and rely on some of the greatest minds in the world to come up solutions,” McPeek said. “Safety is the number one goal for our country but I think if we can have a season it would mean so much to the morale of the country and our communities.

“We are discussing plans for a moving target but our staff has even been making plans for a August 1 start date for football and maybe the season being shorter. At this point, I’m planning a full season and very hopeful.”

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association had to suspend the state basketball tournaments as well as all spring sports just like the NCAA had to do. Professional sports have postponed/cancelled events with no timetable for when competition may resume.

High school coaches know it’s important with all the uncertainty to keep in touch with players as much as they are allowed.

“We have been sending workouts and motivational stuff out through google classroom and group text groups,” Clevenger said. “We have also been having a team video meet session twice a week just to get together on a video call and hang out and check up on each other.

“I believe as this epidemic continues to evolve, our roles for students and players will need to evolve as well. I am not sure anyone knows what that will look like until it hits our specific communities.”

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