SPRINGFIELD — Georgia high school football players hit the field Monday for the start of mandatory workouts.
Coaches have been anxiously awaiting the moment and, with the green light given by the Georgia High School Association for fall sports to proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been a time of celebration for fans, parents, teachers, administrators and athletes.
Effingham County head coach Buddy Holder was confident the 2020 season wouldn’t be scrapped.
“We always thought it was going to happen,” he said. “Backing it up two weeks really is helpful because we hadn’t been able to do a whole lot in the summer like we have in the past. Not having spring football, I know we’re far behind just like everyone else.
“It gives us time to get caught up and get stuff in that we haven’t been able to get in.”
With the additional time — the GHSA moved the opening week of the season from Aug. 21 to Sept. 4 —Holder is aiming to get his players into the routine they would have already been in had it not been for the pandemic.
“(I am looking forward to) getting back to some normalcy,” Holder said. “We are still waiting to get word from Georgia High School if they are going to allow us to get out of these small groups we’re in. What you want to be able to do is combine everybody and work as a team.”
Pushing the start of the season back two weeks comes with a cost. It’s possible the GHSA may have to push back the start of basketball season to accommodate coaches who rely on football players to fill their roster. Student-athletes cannot be active in two sports at the same time.
“When you start moving sports into the spring, a lot of our kids and most people’s kids play more than one sport,” Holder said. “When you start moving it into spring, you start disrupting basketball, baseball, track season. Some of them play soccer and you have lacrosse going on.”
While some states have moved football to the spring, Holder and his staff are grateful they will be able to take the field in September. What’s even more meaningful is — barring an extreme COVID-19 spread, the Rebels will play a full schedule.
“We feel real fortunate,” Holder said. “We have a chance to play 10 games. That was really a great relief knowing that the level of importance the state has put on that. It’s important to play the games. It’s important to get back to normalcy.
“Sports helps with that.”