PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Friday starts the high school football season after a summer where some doubted it would happen. Coaches said it’s now on their teams to make sure a season can continue.
According to the WPIAL, each school is handling how or if fans will be allowed in the stands.
“It’s a great night in western Pennsylvania where so many young people are going to get to enjoy playing high school football,” Gateway athletic director and football coach Don Holl said.
After a summer where fall sports were in question, coaches and player are ready to start their quest for a trip to Hershey.
“Very exciting day not only for our program but all programs in Pennsylvania,” Clairton football coach Wayne Wade Jr. said over Zoom.
“We had hoped that we’d be able to play and there were times where it didn’t look good and other times where we were fairly confident,” Holl said.
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To abide by the gathering limitations in place, Gateway says only the parents of senior players, cheerleaders and band members will be allowed in the stands. Clairton said the same protocol is in place for its whole conference.
Gateway plans to livestream home games.
“We’re only taking essential staff, so we won’t have a lot of staff with us. It will just be a few of our managers, our trainer,” Wade said.
To keep players and coaches safe, there are expanded sidelines to help social distancing. Coaches will have masks, some players will have splash guards on their helmets and players will not be using the same water bottles or towels.
“So we have to make sure we’re doing all the things right to continue to have a season,” Wade said about players making sure they follow the guidelines.
For coaches, this is a step closer to getting back to normal life.
“But at the same time, cautiously optimistic that we’re still on that trajectory,” Holl said inside Antimarino Stadium.
“You have to take advantage of these opportunities because you don’t know how long it’s going to last,” Wade told KDKA.
Safety will continue to be a priority. The WPIAL said games could be postponed if a player tests positive for the virus.
This first week, several teams are not playing because they have not had the mandatory amount of practice.