NEW LOOK FOR FALL SPORTS

Limited attendance, scheduling gymnastics and public health create new challenges for schools


Nick Cordova (left) follows the block of Aidan Borth during the sport-specific drills at Jourdanton’s voluntary summer strength and conditioning on Monday, July 27. All student-athletes participating in workouts are required to wear masks in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. SAM FOWLER | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Nick Cordova (left) follows the block of Aidan Borth during the sport-specific drills at Jourdanton’s voluntary summer strength and conditioning on Monday, July 27. All student-athletes participating in workouts are required to wear masks in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. SAM FOWLER | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

After the UIL announced on Tuesday, July 21, there would be a fall season in 2020, coaches felt a sense of relief initially. The coaches could definitely tell their athletes that the season was going to happen.

“I couldn’t be [happier],” Jourdanton Athletic Director and Head football Coach Darrell Andrus said. “I think we all know what the alternative could have been. And we’re seeing it with potentially other states and schools and us coaches firsthand get to see the amount of work these kids put in to the sports that they play.

“So, all the extracurricular activity then and also school and just trying to keep keep all of it in perspective and understand, you know, this was a situation that there’s all kinds of variables that that are coming out as daily, requiring change, requiring good communication.”

But then the challenges began to set in.

With the UIL’s announcement came a staggered start: classes 4A-1A can start on time on Aug. 3. Practices for classes 6A and 5A would be delayed until Sept. 7. Pleasanton and Jourdanton were affected by that with Class 5A opponents on the schedules. Pleasanton and Poteet were also affected by orders handed out by Bexar County that told school districts in the county they could not start in-person instruction until Sept. 7.

Poteet’s Ernest Davila works to avoid a Pearsall defender during Poteet’s 57-14 win over the Mavericks on Nov. 8, 2019. PLEASANTON EXPRESS FILE PHOTO

Poteet’s Ernest Davila works to avoid a Pearsall defender during Poteet’s 57-14 win over the Mavericks on Nov. 8, 2019. PLEASANTON EXPRESS FILE PHOTO

That meant the schools had to find replacement games to fill the openings in their schedule. Area coaches may still have to fill games as more and more orders come out from local governments and school districts.

“The big thing when we schedule, you know, we want to play teams that are beneficial to us and are beneficial to our growth as a team,” Poteet Athletic Director and Head football Coach Darby House said. “We originally scheduled all 4A. And now we just replaced them.”

Pleasanton replaced their games in weeks 1, 2 and 5 with Hondo, Poteet and Corpus Christi King in that order. It will be the first time since 2015 that the Eagles and Aggies meet on the gridiron.

Jose De La Cruz (21) scampers down the sideline during Pleasanton’s 49-8 win over Carrizo Springs on Sept. 27, 2019. J GARCIA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Jose De La Cruz (21) scampers down the sideline during Pleasanton’s 49-8 win over Carrizo Springs on Sept. 27, 2019. J GARCIA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

“It’ll be tougher, at least I hope so,” House said of the matchup. “As long as you come out of it healthy, it’s a great experience. Plus, they’re right up the road. So, it gives us an opportunity to play Pleasanton which I’ve never had the opportunity to play at Poteet. And so I think it’ll be a fun game to play.”

On top of the nondistrict rescheduling, some districts are having to rearrange their district schedules. The UIL told coaches at the Texas High School Coaches Association convention they would have to “get creative” with their scheduling in order to best assure a season is completed.

For Jourdanton, Poteet and Lytle in District 14- 3A DI, a schedule is being finalized that would force them to play football games every five days. It currently needs approval from all schools in the district.

In turn, that would force some games to be played on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It’s an opportunity to create more competition dates without eliminating games, should games be postponed.

“It’s been very weird,” Andrus said. “But, you know, we’ve got so many variables and everyone is trying to do things to keep as many of the district games going but also let our kids play.”

When the season starts, stadiums will be held to at least 50% capacity. Both Jourdanton and Poteet plan to live-stream their sporting events as a way to allow fans to take in the action if they are unable to attend games.

No matter the mandates or recommendations, area coaches are willing to do whatever it takes to get their teams on the field safely.

“We’re on that boat with everybody else,” House said. “You’re gonna adjust and adapt to whatever they give us because the end thing is we all want to play. So we’re going to do whatever it takes to play, whether it’s wear a mask, whether it’s whatever we got to do, whatever they come out with, we’re going to follow it if that’s going to give us an opportunity to play.”

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