‘We have to figure it out’: HS football practice resumes

Coronavirus

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tuesday was the first day of the second round of high school football practices after the fall season was postponed due to coronavirus.

The first football games are next week but they will look a lot different than years past. The biggest changes include small crowds, no marching bands and masks on everyone, including the players.

“Nothing surprises us now,” East Grand Rapids Athletic Director Tim Johnston said.

Johnston is making sure all requirements set by the Michigan High School Athletic Association are met.

“It’s going to be different,” he said. “It’s not going to be impossible. There were a lot of people who said, ‘Hey, just let us play and we’ll figure it out.’ Well, they are going to allow us to play and now we have to figure it out.”

Athletic directors and coaches all over West Michigan are in the same boat. Perhaps the biggest concern is about football players wearing mouth guards and masks during the high-intensity sport.

“We hope and pray that there are no safety risks involved,” Johnston said of the unknowns.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sept. 3 that organized sports could move forward — though her office advised against it — and issued an order setting rules for games.

Each player is allowed to have two fans in the stands. In East Grand Rapids, the usual three entrances will be limited to one and there will be a list of names identifying who is allowed in. Cheerleaders will be on the sidelines but the marching band is out.

Instead of focusing on what won’t happen, fans are focused on what will happen.  

“Last Wednesday, there were no games being played and no kids on the field and no one in the stands. So it is what it is,” Johnston said.

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