Football has always been known as a sport that draws in an entire community. Now, the likelihood of the 2020 prep football season happening may depend on that very community.
After LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonnie said before the state House Education Committee Monday that football will not start until the state reaches Phase 4 of the coronavirus re-opening plan, LaGrange head coach Marrico Wilson said that the season will depend on people outside of the football realm and how closely they adhere to social distancing guidelines and the recent mask mandate.
“It is a very tough road ahead,” Wilson said. “We already didn’t know if we were going to have football. Now, we really have put off football till who knows when.
“It all boils down to everybody doing what they are supposed to do that are not even associated with athletics or sports.”
Wilson hopes people take the coronavirus seriously. He has first-hand knowledge of the effect of the virus after contracting it not long after schools closed in March. He has recovered but wears a mask religiously.
“I hope that people start doing what they are supposed to do,” Wilson said. “That is where it starts.
“You go on social media now, and people are fussing about how hard it is to wear a mask. How hard is it to wear a mask in and outside the store? Me, myself, I had the virus. It is not easy when you have it. It is almost a life or death situation when you get the coronavirus because you don’t know. Luckily by the grace of God, I made it through, and I wear my mask everywhere I go, and it doesn’t affect me at all. People need to know that other people have had it. I am still shell shocked to go anywhere there is a lot of people. I go early in the mornings to shop to get in and out. Other than that, I don’t go at all. I haven’t even been to church yet, because our church is big. I don’t know how many people are going to be there.”
Wilson had a meeting with his players Monday, especially the seniors, before Bonnie’s statement to prepare them for the possibility of having a shortened season or none at all.
“I can only speak on my kids,” Wilson said. “I had already talked to my seniors in my group this morning (Monday) about the possibility of pushing back football.
“All they were said is hopefully if we have a season that is shortened, at least we had a season. Having no season at all, I feel for my seniors that have been working hard in the weight room, on the track and have gotten to their senior year and can’t play.”
The state entered Phase 2 on June 2. But a rise in case counts forced Gov. John Bel Edwards to extend Phase 2 to July 28 and add a mask mandate that started Monday.
“I think that we opened up too fast,” Wilson said. “Now we have to go back.
“If the people of the State of Louisiana do what they are supposed to do, then we have a possibility of playing. If not the football guys that love the game of football will not be able to watch.”
While it has not generated much discussion in LHSAA meetings, Wilson is in favor of flipping fall sports to the spring and vise versa.
“Football is the money maker of the school. Without football, a lot of schools are going to struggle. When the LHSAA sent out an email, I was for the flip because they are playing baseball and softball now, so why not flip it. I don’t know why (some) baseball and softball coaches are fighting the issue. They have been playing tournament ball all through the pandemic, so what is the difference in flipping your schedule now. I was talking to a coach (Monday), JUCOs have flipped their season to the spring, so why not flip it?”
If football is cancelled, it could have far-reaching effects on the finances of other sports.
“That helps those teams function throughout the year without having to do a whole lot of fundraisers,” Wilson said. “It is going to be a trickling effect if we don’t have football.”