Editor’s note: The Sept. 10 print edition of The Pointe Coupee Banner says high school football would being the weekend of Oct. 8-10. At press deadline Wednesday, this was expected to be the start date.
An hour after The Banner’s deadline, the LHSAA Executive Committee announced the start date would be Oct. 1-3. The story below reflects this change.
Pointe Coupee Parish’s high school football teams can circle a date on the calendar for the start of their season.
While many observers expected football to begin the weekend of Oct. 8-10, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Committee announced football would begin Oct. 1-3.
Local coaches told The Banner that both scrimmages and jamboree could be ahead for their teams before the start date was announced.
The proposal was announced Friday, Sept. 4, at the House Education Committee meeting at the State Capitol. At that time, it was believed football would begin Oct. 8-10.
But the LHSAA executive committee went into executive session and when it came out, it announced the Oct. 1-3 time frame.
The approved plan provides coronavirus pandemic liability to LHSAA member schools and resolves conflicts with the phased reopening.
Full-contact football practices can begin Thursday.
Plans for spectators for all fall sports are still to be finalized, but 50 percent occupancy has been discussed.
Local coaches celebrated the news of a start date for the 2020 season.
“Absolutely, it put the winds in their sails,” said David Simoneaux, Catholic High of Pointe Coupee coach, about the Hornets’ reaction to the news.
“It’s just been crazy,” said Josh LaBorde, Livonia coach, as he and his staff map out how to accommodate the COVID-19 restrictions.
“We’ve been positive, telling the kids it would happen,” LaBorde said. “We were saying it looks good. Now they can look forward to the season.
“Our seniors know they will have a season and colleges will get to look at them.”
“We felt we were in purgatory,” Simoneaux said, as if and what kind of season his Hornets would have awaited action in the Legislature and what recovery phase was in effect.
After the House Education Committee meeting, the Hornets got in one practice and news of the coming season showed, Simoneaux said.
“It was a good day. They were in high spirits,” he said. “We expect the same this week.”
“We finally got a beginning date,” LaBorde said. “Now, we need to see the specifics from the LHSAA on games, jamborees and scrimmages.”
Both coaches said they want to honor scrimmages and jamborees agreed on earlier this year.
“Our scrimmage, if allowed, would be with Glen Oaks,” possibly on Sept. 24 in Livonia, LaBorde said.
Livonia also has a contract with Central for a jamboree matchup at Central, he said.
“All we can do is wait and see. It seems like it’s changing by the minute,” LaBorde said.
Meanwhile, Catholic-PC would want to scrimmage at Ascension Catholic, Simoneaux said, while the jamboree could present an interesting situation.
The Hornets had jamboree plans at Central Private, but Simoneaux pointed out that Central Private also is his team’s Week 3 opponent.
Simoneaux said he is waiting to hear from the LHSAA about what week of the season will be the first week, before looking at possibly playing Central Private two consecutive weeks.
Livonia won’t put pads on until the LHSAA Executive Committee gives its approval, LaBorde said.
“We’re waiting for them to clear us for shoulder pads. It will give us some time to get accustomed (to practice) in pads and hitting each other,” he said.
“We’re glad we have time to address a rehearsal before the season so we can prepare for the health and safety of our players,” he said.
“We need to get acclimated to pads (and contact) and cover safety in tackling and blocking.”
“The kids are enthusiastic – they were enthusiastic before – but now they have a purpose,” LaBorde said.
The proposed agreement to move football forward came Attorney General Jeff Landry issued an opinion stating that playing high school football would not carry liability for LHSAA schools.
The opinion was requested by Rep. Buddy Mincey Jr., R-Denham Springs, on liability for the LHSAA and its schools. Mincey was the original author of the legislation that became Act 9, which addressed resuming sports.
When the committee meeting began, House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, made an opening statement, which hinted at an announcement of the agreement.
"I appreciate you all working hard and getting things done like this," Schexnayder said. "I've said this before with other pieces of legislation we've all worked on: When you bring people together, a lot of good things can happen.
“I want to be clear ... this meeting and its actions are not an attempt to ignore public safety. It's about beginning to move out of a temporary abnormal and back to life."
Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a written statement issued after the committee meeting that, “In the middle of next week, or Thursday (Sept. 10) or Friday (Sept. 11) we’ll be making an announcement about whether we are going to go to Phase 3.
“I hope that we can. I hope the data supports that. We’ve always wanted to be able to do that.”