If the TSSAA maintained its original plan of delaying the start of the season until Sept. 18, this would have been opening week for high school football.
Negotiations with the governor’s office eventually allowed the state to proceed with the regular starting date of Aug. 21, and some teams have sailed through the first month’s worth of games without a hitch.
But while things seem to have gone fairly smooth in our area, there is this reminder: The TSSAA has awarded 79 victories because of COVID-19 cancellations in four weeks. And Memphis schools are still waiting for the chance to hit the field.
Here’s the breakdown of COVID-19 victories awarded, grouped by area:
Week 1 (18 statewide): East, 8 (4 within the area from Morristown to Mountain City); Middle, 4; West, 6
Week 2 (17): East, 4 (1); Middle, 8; West, 5
Week 3 (17): East, 4 (2); Middle, 9; West, 4
Week 4 (22): East, 6 (2); Middle, 8; West, 7
Totals: East, 22 (9); Middle, 29; West, 22
The total numbers paint two pictures. No. 1, we aren’t out of the woods in terms of trying to get a football season finished during the pandemic.
No. 2, well over 100 teams across the state will have a chance to play their fifth game of the season this week, reaching the halfway mark — which is an encouraging accomplishment.
It would have been difficult to find somebody in late July or early August who believed that could actually happen.
High school football programs have rarely been transparent about player injuries. And when it comes to sprained ankles and the like, student-athletes and their families have a right to privacy. So it’s understandable.
Also, coaches don’t want to give the opposing team a perceived advantage if they know which players are out or banged up.
But for the 2020 football season, should there be a higher bar for COVID-19 transparency? Should high schools notify the public if players will miss a game because of positive cases of COVID-19 or quarantine situations?
Even if it’s one or two players, shouldn’t people have that information when they are trying to decide whether to attend a football game?
For example, a person may see Team A has four players missing for COVID reasons and, in their own risk assessment, decide that number is too high.
As open as schools and health departments have been about COVID numbers, should school administrators allow their football teams to conceal these numbers?
COMBINE, HIGH SCHOOL STYLE
The Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association will hold an NFL-style combine on Dec. 9.
Designed to help high school seniors showcase their football talents, the event will be held at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro. The day-long event will feature at least 100 of the state’s top players, who will be selected by coaches.
TSSAA COVID-19 regulations will be in place. The event will replace the annual East-West All-Star Classic.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Sullivan South at Sullivan Central: If the Cougars want to be mentioned in the upper echelon of Region 1-4A, this is a game where they need to prove it.
Tennessee High at Morristown East: One of these teams should emerge from this contest as the team to beat in Region 1-5A.
Unicoi County at Claiborne: With Claiborne off to a sparkling 3-0 start overall and both teams 1-0 in league play, this game splashes into region significance.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Sullivan South 37, Sullivan Central 22
The Rebels’ offensive capabilities will likely be too much for the Cougars to chase down.
Picks record: 3-0
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cameron Johnson, Volunteer
It wasn’t desperation mode for the Falcons, but finding the right step against Sullivan East was critical.
Cameron Johnson found all kinds of right steps as he picked them up and put them down for 260 yards worth of production on 17 carries. Johnson also scored four touchdowns in Volunteer’s 55-13 crackdown on Sullivan East.
THE HOGS AWARD
David Crockett Pioneers
The Crockett Crunchers were at their hog best in Friday night’s impressive 31-7 win over Knox Webb.
They churned out working room for 279 rushing yards with 8.5 per attempt. The pass protection was stout as well with a 67-percent completion rate.
DEFENSIVE UNIT OF THE WEEK
Sometimes it’s good to save the best for last, and that’s what the Falcons did in a 55-13 win over Sullivan East.
The Falcons’ defense gave up a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes, but pitched a shutout the rest of the way.