The 2020 fall sports season for Ohio high schools is underway, and with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, this sports season promises to be like no other.
The girls and boys golf seasons, as well as girls tennis, will soon be joined by volleyball, football, cross country and girls soccer.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has approved a new Ohio Department of Health order, allowing contact sports to be played, with guidelines to which the schools must adhere.
The Record-Herald spoke with Washington High School Athletic Director Greg Phipps Thursday, as more information is becoming available.
“We have been playing boys and girls golf and girls tennis,” Phipps said. “Next week, the week of the 24th, girls soccer, volleyball and football will start.”
Washington will begin the high school volleyball season with a home match against Leesburg Fairfield Monday with the j-v match slated to begin at 5 p.m.
The Lady Lion soccer team will begin the season Monday at Circleville and have its first home match Tuesday, Sept. 1 against McClain. Both events have a starting time of 5 p.m. (Washington High School is not fielding a boys soccer team this season.)
The Blue Lion varsity football team will begin a six-game slate of games Friday, Aug. 28 at Minford at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Aug. 29, the Minford junior-varsity team will play at Gardner Park, beginning at 10 a.m.
The Frontier Athletic Conference athletic directors and principals will be meeting Friday. The FAC, now in its fourth season, has six charter members: Washington, Miami Trace, McClain, Hillsboro, Chillicothe and Jackson High Schools.
“The State came out with a 15-percent seating capacity,” Phipps said. “That’s for inside and outside venues. For a football game, every player, cheerleader and band member will get a few tickets for the home games.”
Only a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend these games, Phipps said.
“We are looking at three (tickets or passes per student-participant) but, it really depends on how many the FAC decides to allow guest teams,” Phipps said. “That will be settled (Friday).”
After playing at Minford, Washington’s varsity football team will play at Chillicothe on Sept. 4 and at Jackson on Sept. 11. The second half of the season will be comprised of three home games, starting with Hillsboro on Sept. 18, McClain on Sept. 25 and Miami Trace on Oct. 2.
“Right now we’re looking at possibly three tickets (for each student participant),” Phipps said. “But that’s not in concrete.”
For the visiting school, tickets will be made available, whether it is three or four tickets per participant, whatever is decided upon, Phipps said.
“Washington City Schools will not be able to have any reserve seating or season passes,” Phipps said. “All fans who have reserved seats will be able to keep their assigned seats hopefully for the 2021 season. They would not lose their assigned seat. We’ve got some fans who have had reserve seats for football for upwards of 40 years.
“This is a huge loss for our very supportive fans,” Phipps said. “Also, for us as an athletic department, we’re losing a lot of money on those reserve seats and because we can only allow 15 percent capacity at the events.
“The great thing is, all sports are a go,” Phipps said. “Some of them have already started. Every athlete will have the opportunity to be a part of a game situation and still be able to have a few family members.”
Phipps said the idea is to provide family members the opportunity to witness their daughter’s or son’s activities. However, with many different types of families and familial situations, student participants may allow a friend or other important person in their lives to attend an event.
There also will be no student section. The State also orders that marching bands may not travel to perform at road games.
“Our band will be playing at our three home games,” Phipps said. “I can confirm that the FAC is going to keep a 20-minute halftime. The State said we could (shorten) that, but we are keeping that so that the home band can go ahead and perform a little longer, since they will not get to go to away events.
“We are currently working on live-streaming, for sure, the three home varsity football games that we have,” Phipps said. He was not able to give more details about live-streaming at this time.
“We may have some tickets available for the first game (at Minford), but I do not know at this time,” Phipps said.
Phipps said that fans will not have to have their temperatures taken prior to entering a sporting event, but masks or face coverings will be required.