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GHSA expected to play football finals Dec. 28-30

ajc.com

Georgia High School Association executive director Robin Hines is eyeing Dec. 28-30 as the dates for the state football finals after the GHSA moved Monday to postpone the season for two weeks.

A literal two-week delay would’ve put championship games on Christmas Day and the two days on either side. But Hines, speaking Monday evening on Chris Beckham’s “High School Football Report” radio show in Valdosta, said playing games between Christmas and New Year’s Day makes better sense.

The Dec. 28-30 dates are Monday through Wednesday.

“I’m feeling pretty good that we’re out of school, most people take that time off work and we have an opportunity to get a lot of spectators,” Hines said. “So I’m going to be optimistic as I always have.”

Two flag football championship games also were scheduled as part of the state finals week, but Hines was unsure how that now would play out. Flag football’s season remains on schedule and would end two weeks before traditional football.

Hines also shed light Monday on scrimmages, which normally run two weeks before the regular season.

“Just imagine picking the whole thing up and moving it two weeks,” Hines said of the schedule. “So I guess that would mean it would be the 21st and 29th for scrimmages.”

Hines echoed the rationale for the delay given by board-of-trustees members Monday for moving the schedule.

It had more to do with leveling the playing field than any recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Georgia. Schools started summer conditioning at various dates in June and July, and some have been hit with two-week stoppages to deal with positive coronavirus tests of staff or athletes. As a result, some schools didn’t feel they would be ready to compete in football by mid-August.

“We’ve got quite a few systems that have been affected by the COVID-19, and they’ve had a lot of kids that have had to quarantine ... and for many of those systems, it’s become a situation to where it’s a conditioning issue,” Hines said. “You go and send a whole group home for two weeks, and then when it’s time to come back, you worry about their level of conditioning and moving forward, and we just felt like moving those two weeks to give some of those schools an opportunity to catch up.”

Hines will meet with his sports-medicine advisory committee Wednesday and could announce more easing of restrictions for voluntary summer conditioning, which will be completed at the end of next week.

Football teams may begin mandatory practices July 27 and move to full pads by Aug. 1.

The first games now are scheduled for the week of Sept. 4.

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