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Status of fall sports remains in the air

By Tim Croft
The Star

Bobby Johns said if he had a penny for every person who had asked him about when fall sports would pick back up, “I’d be a rich man.” 

Fall sports coaches and athletic directors are in a kind of state of suspended animation as they watch the COVID-19 pandemic and signs from the Florida High School Athletics Association. 

And Johns, an FHSAA board member in addition to athletic director and football coach at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr High School, is about as much in the dark as anybody right now. 

“We are all just kind of limbo right now,” Johns said. 

Last month, when a motion by Johns to start fall sports as scheduled July 27 was unanimously approved following an FHSAA board meeting that lasted more than five hours, all seemed in place. 

But the FHSAA board rescinded that motion the following week and moved the start of fall practices back to Aug. 24, an original recommendation of a committee of coaches. 

“We don’t know what is going to happen,” Johns said. “Any proposal that has been brought to the board … that is a starting point. 

“Everything is just advisory right now.” 

The committee representing athletic directors has yet to weigh in on either of the two options. 

The first would be starting fall practices Aug. 24 with the opening games either Sept. 4 or 11, Johns said, depending on how long coaches feel is needed to get ready. 

Johns said he believed his team was prepared for the earlier start. 

This option would also eliminate championship series in fall sports and is also the option the FHSAA has tentatively adopted, Johns said, though it has yet to be taken up the committees of athletic directors or football coaches. 

The other option is to move the sports calendar to a November start. 

“That is there in case the FHSAA decides we aren’t safe to go back,” Johns said. 

Meanwhile both high school football programs are effectively extending summer conditioning. 

“When we are going to start, we want to be ready,” Johns said. 

After an assistant coach tested positive for coronavirus, Johns shut down practice for a couple of weeks. 

“We can do that right now,” Johns said. 

That has been the lone issue with COVID within the program, Johns said; in Port St. Joe a couple of middle school players tested positive. 

“Overall, summer has gone really well, we really haven’t had any problems,” Johns said.