OHSAA: Large majority of Ohio high schools playing football this fall

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High school football: 2019 season in review

First Friday night of the season is this week

The high school football season, the status of which was in question all summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, starts Friday.

That’s true for the majority of Ohio, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Monday approximately 60 schools of the 709 member schools that originally planned to play football this fall — close to 12 percent — have paused or cancelled football due to COVID-19 concerns.

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That list includes programs from Dayton Public Schools — Thurgood Marshall, Belmont, Meadowdale, Ponitz, and Dunbar — as well as Trotwood Madison. Middletown announced Monday it was reinstating fall sports, reversing a decision it made in late July. Columbus City Schools and Akron City Schools have also suspended sports this month.

The OHSAA will allow any program that starts the season late to play in the postseason. In fact, it’s possible for a program to not play a regular-season game at all and still appear in the playoffs if they inform the OHSAA of their intention to play by Sept. 17. The playoffs start Oct. 8-9 after a six-game regular season.

Gov. Mike DeWine gave football and the other contact sports — field hockey and soccer — the approval to proceed with their seasons last week.

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“Our schools are so excited to get the season started and they are taking ownership of the new safety guidelines so they can have a season,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Senior Director of Sport Management and Officiating in an OHSAA press release. “As we saw in the spring, sports can be shut down due to COVID-19 spread, so our schools, coaches and student-athletes want to do everything they can to play as many games this fall as possible. Teams must continue to follow the safety protocols that have been put in place, including wearing a facial covering, staying 6-feet apart and washing their hands.”

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The OHSAA will ask schools to reinforce the importance of safety measures at all games. This is the announcement people will hear:

“Ladies and Gentlemen – this year, our season depends on the cooperation and support from everyone to follow the safety guidelines set by the Ohio Department of Health, the Governor’s Office and the Ohio High School Athletic Association. As we have seen, the opportunity to play sports can be taken away by the spread of COVID-19. We ask that everyone in attendance wear a facial covering, use proper hygiene and keep yourself and your family six feet apart from other families. Our ability to follow these guidelines will go a long way in determining how much of a season our student-athletes will have. Thank you for your cooperation.”

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