MHSAA gives thumbs up on return to play for fall sports

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published September 3, 2020

METRO DETROIT — With Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifting restrictions on sports, the Michigan High School Athletic Association Representative Council has reinstated the fall sports season for 2020.

Whitmer’s order allows for an immediate start of boys soccer, while girls swimming and diving and volleyball can begin Sept. 9.

Football teams will also be able to take the field, with regular season games beginning Sept. 18. Teams will play a six-game schedule beginning with their originally scheduled Week 4 opponent. Practices were slated to begin Sept. 8.

Every team will make the playoffs, with the 8-man finals taking place Nov. 27-28 and the 11-man finals being played Dec. 4-5.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for kids to get back on the field in all fall sports, and we appreciate Governor Whitmer providing that opportunity with Executive Order 176 ,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a prepared statement. “We share the Governor’s priorities of putting health and safety first, and the COVID-19 guidance and protocols designed by the MHSAA at her request have led to the safe starts in all sports across the state.”

Madison Heights Bishop Foley football coach Brian Barnes said he had the thought in the back of his mind that football could come back this fall.

With the plan and schedule now in place, he and his team are ready to hit the ground running and compete.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s kind of like Christmas morning,” Barnes said. “Their emotions have definitely been up and down throughout this whole thing, and now that they have some clarity and we can see an end point that we’re preparing for a game in two weeks, that’s a good thing.”

Teams have been allowed to practice with some limitations, but there hasn’t been much, if any padded practices. With games right around the corner, teams will have to work fast to make sure they are ready.

However, with everyone in the same situation, Roseville High coach Vernard Snowden said it’s about getting back to the basics and focusing on being as ready as possible for the first game.

“I think we’ll be prepared,” Snowden said. “I trust my coaching staff. We have a phenomenal coaching staff and some great kids, so we’ll be ready.”

One of the biggest changes to this season will be the fact that everyone makes the playoffs. This was supposed to be the first year of a new playoff system, but that will be put on hold.

All other fall 2020 tournaments will proceed as previously scheduled.

“I think we kind of knew going into the season that things would be different,” Barnes said. “Ultimately, it’s about giving the best experience that we can to our kids. If we think having everybody make the playoffs and help those kids get that experience, then so be it. I’m all for it.”