Like anything else the state of high school athletics this fall is in flux, as the coronavirus continues to be a pandemic. And the burning question on everyone’s mind: Will there be a football season?
Sun Prairie head football coach Brian Kaminski and his fellow Big Eight Conference coaches made a proposal to the league’s athletic directors. On Sunday, via Zoom, they developed a plan for football moving forward in the Big Eight.
“We discussed what our options were,” said Kaminski.
The proposal had five recommendations:
We feel the right thing to do is to cancel our first two non-conference games and scrimmage at this point. We don’t see how we can get our players ready in time to compete in a safe environment. We haven’t been able to do anything with them for four months and we need time to help them acclimatize to the game again. We would also eliminate any excess travel at this point in the season.
We would like to still start on Aug. 3 with our meeting. This is allowed according to the Dane County Health Guidelines. We would explain to everyone what a social distance practice would look like, what cohort they will be in for the first week, hand out equipment for them to take home and keep at home, training room expectations, sanitization process, etc.
3. We would like to start our practices on Aug. 4. We would follow the Dane County Health Guidelines as to how many people we could have in a group. We believe it’s 25 outside right now and 10 inside. We would bring our players in their group and they would stay in that group for the entire first week. We would have a group on the field practicing and doing conditioning type drills for 90 minutes while the other group is in film meetings, weight room or gymnasium. We would take a 30-minute break to sanitize all equipment and then the groups would switch locations. They would be at practice for 3 1/2 hours total each day.
4. We would switch up the groups the second week as needed and follow the same plan.
5. We then feel we will be more acclimatized and in condition to start the 2-a-day practice routine on Aug. 17. Then hope to play our first conference game on Sept. 4.
Sun Prairie is scheduled to begin the season Aug. 21 against Hudson, and in conjunction unveil its brand new Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field.
However, if the proposal is met above, the Cardinals’ season opener would be Sept. 4 against Madison La Follette at the new stadium.
In late June, Big Eight athletic directors made the decision to await additional guidelines and guidance from the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI), local school districts, public health officials and the WIAA prior to addressing fall sports competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was then decided that an additional meeting would be scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday, July 21, as those AD’s will discuss both the above proposal and the status and scheduling of conference competitions in the fall.
“The conference does not determine the school based decisions regarding non-conference competition but could all opt for a shared approach potentially,” said Madison Memorial AD Jeremy Schiltz. “Coaches and parents often have a more narrow advocacy so ADs, school officials, and the WIAA need to look at the solutions from a greater good viewpoint and how to serve the mission of high school sports for all. From a logistical standpoint we need to focus on facilities, staffing, officiating,and transportation beyond the safety of our students and communities and making sure that we do not negatively impact the educational model provided for the students by introducing additional disruptions.”
On Tuesday, nearby Waunakee decided to cancel its first two non-conference games, both their season opener with Reedsburg and a Week 2 meeting with Middleton, a Big Eight Conference school. The Warriors will not start practice until Aug. 17, not Aug. 4 that on the WIAA website is the official first day of practice.
Waunakee will play only Badger Large Conference games, beginning Sept. 4 at Janesville Parker, which along with Janesville Craig will play a football-only schedule in the Badger starting this season.
- “Safety is our number one concern as well as making sure all players have time for acclimating them back into sports,” said Kaminski. “We want to take it slow.”