As we know, the LHSAA has not made a final decision on what will happen to fall sports, especially football, which are set to begin in earnest within the next month.
With that being said, parish football coaches are still very anxious to hear from the organization about the fate of the sport this coming season.
One move the LHSAA did make that helped ease some of the anxiety gridiron coaches are experiencing was to keep tomorrow as the day teams could officially start practice.
That move came as a surprise to most of the coaches across Evangeline Parish, simple because of the fact that the state has not moved forward into Phase III of the recovery plan.
“I was very surprised that they (the LHSAA) did not push back the date for us to start,” stated Mamou High head coach Dwight Collins. “I was getting ready for more protocols for summer workouts. I guess they are just preparing us in case we move into Phase III.”
“With what the governor keeping us in Phase II longer, I was definitely surprised that the LHSAA went against that trend and let us start on time. However, I’m glad they did keep us on track,” said Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper.
Even with the start date remaining the same, the LHSAA still put protocols in place that will restrict some of the activities that can take place at these practices. For example, teams will still not be able to have person-to-person contact even when they are able to put on shoulder pads come August 10.
The LHSAA also listed the types of training equipment that teams can acceptably use.
According to Basile head coach Tony Bertrand, those protocols were not surprising.
“We have been expecting guidance when we were given the green light to begin practice,” commented Bertrand. “Obviously we cannot go against the phase that we are in and the protocols in those stages. But, we have been working toward making this work the best way we can.”
The biggest frustration not only for the coaches, but for the players and fans also, is the fact that the LHSAA has not made a clear and definite decision about what the upcoming football season will look like in terms of number of games. There seems to be a perpetual waiting game taking place, a waiting game that heavily depends on Governor John Bel Edwards’ August 7 ruling to move forward to Phase III or stay in Phase II.
No matter, parish coaches are very adamant that the LHSAA decide on a plan, regardless of what direction Edwards goes.
“We need to know how to proceed,” stated Ville Platte High head coach Jorie Randle. “Being in limbo is not very good for coaches and players. Regardless if we move the season back or cut games, we need to have a definite plan so that we can be prepared.”
“No matter what decision is made by the governor on August 7, we need something concrete from the LHSAA,” said Harper. “It would give us a plan so we could work toward a goal and that would allow us to adjust our game plan. Even if that date has to be pushed back, we would still have something that would move us forward.”
Bertrand points toward the dissatisfaction being felt by the many people anxious to have a plan written in stone.
“Right now, it is very frustrating for the players and the parents of those players,” said Bertrand. “And, it becomes frustrating for us because we are continually bombarded by questions that we cannot answer.”
One concept that all of the coaches did agree upon, making sure the teams play the most games possible.
“We want to play as safely as possible, but this team needs a full season,” commented Collins. “As a very young team, we have a lot of uncertainty coming into the season. We need as much prep time and as many games as possible to become a team that can compete.”
Harper agrees a full season would be the best case scenario.
“We want to do everything we can to play our 10 games,” stated Harper. “Talking to coaches around the state, I believe that is what everyone wants. But, if we don’t get those games, give us something.”
Most of the talk about the 2020 football season has centered around what the LHSAA does in terms of the amount of games that will get to be played. There is no doubt that a huge part of that decision rests on how fast the state moves forward.
When asked about what should happen if the season could not start on time, the parish coaches all pointed to pushing the season back.
“I would hope the LHSAA would look at pushing the entire season back,” said Bertrand. “For the kids’ sake, I hope we get to play a full season. Unfortunately, that may not be possible. It all depends on a number of things, including how fast we move through phases.”
“I think the LHSAA needs to do whatever is safest for the players,” said Randle. “Not only in terms of the virus but also in terms of preparing enough that they remain safe from injury. I want a whole season, but my next choice would definitely be to move the season back. Cutting games should be the last option.”