PHOENIX — As it stands right now, August 17 is the first day Arizona high school fall sports can begin.
“We have a date in place. That does not mean that will be the official start date, that is just the date we have used as a target so our schools have an idea when we could potentially come back," AIA Executive Director David Hines said Thursday.
At the time, the Arizona Interscholastic Association was waiting to receive the last of the surveys sent out to member schools, gauging what their participation would be this season. But now a new proposal is on the table, submitted Monday morning by the Arizona Football Coaches Association, asking to push back the start of varsity competitions until October 2.
“This is not just about COVID-19 and all the restrictions and precautions related to COVID, this is about everything else too," Don Kile, Executive Director of the AFCA, told ABC15. "Heat exertion illness, weight training, physical conditioning, academics. Everything that goes on outside the lines and off the field is just as important to a comprehensive return to football.”
Rather than competitions beginning the week of September 7 as it is currently laid out by the AIA, this new proposal would have practices start that week. A shortened 8-game regular season would begin October 2 with the playoffs beginning December 4. The playoff field in each division would be reduced by half, from 16 teams to 8. The state championship games would be played December 18-19.
“All the coaches make sacrifices, all the teams make sacrifices, and they recognize that a lot more goes into this decision than just their eligibility for a playoff run," Kile said. "It’s a comprehensive approach to what is best for Arizona high schools, and football within that.”
More than 100 coaches from 1A to 6A in districts across the state deliberated for a couple of weeks. They came up with this plan that the AIA will now take under consideration when it meets later this week.
“Whatever the AIA brings to its decision and recommendations about a football season, these coaches will all buckle up and get ready to start practicing and get their kids ready to play," Kile added.
To read the full letter sent by the coaches association, click here.