Some private schools have allowed a return to action, but the majority of programs are still waiting for numbers to improve.
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit the entire country in the middle of March, the effects have been felt by athletic departments of high schools everywhere. That effect continues to linger today in South Florida, where schools are just beginning to allow students to re-enter their physical classrooms, but high school football, as well as all other fall sports, remain on hold. This is a tough thing to watch, according to Roland Smith, Miami Central High School football coach. His team won the FHSSA Class 6A state championship last season.
“We’re going on close to nine months since we have played a high school football game,” Smith said. “This has been hard on all of us. The kids are ready to get after it and begin practicing, but so far our contact with our kids has been very limited. We are not able to work out the players. We are currently having Zoom meetings, and that helps as far as staying in communication with the kids, but we really need to be with them in workouts and conditioning.”
While many coaches, players, and fans of South Florida high school football are eager to see their teams return to action, there are several voices attached to the sport who are not in any hurry to see football, or any other extra curricular activity, return so soon.
“If we start and then have to stop again, we’re really going to be in trouble,” said Mark Schusterman, Miami Riviera Prep athletic director.
Last month, the FHSAA voted to allow member schools across the entire state to begin practicing on Aug. 24 and to start playing competitively the first week of September. So far, the only schools that have seen action are the private schools, including programs such as Chaminade-Madonna and Champagnat Catholic, who, despite their private school status, are also defending state champions from a year ago. Chaminade-Madonna is the defending FHSSA Class 3A state champion, with three consecutive titles. Champagnat is the reigning 2A champion. (The two schools played each other in their season openers, with Chaminade-Madonna winning 27-14). There were a few other less prominent schools that opened up on Sept. 11, but the number of actively participating schools is still few.
This would be tough on any school or any football program, but it’s especially tough on this area of Florida. Broward, Palm Beach County, Miami Dade County, Collier County, and Monroe County all boast some of the state’s best high school football programs, with many even nationally ranked. This includes Sunshine State powerhouses St. Thomas Aquanis, Miami Central, American Heritage, Plantation, and Cardinal Newman. Until clearance is given by those school districts to return to action, most South Florida high school football stadiums will remain dark on Friday nights.
Written by: Phil Jones