Marysville Getchell fullback Cheron Smith runs for a first down against Lynnwood on Nov. 1, 2019, at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Marysville Getchell fullback Cheron Smith runs for a first down against Lynnwood on Nov. 1, 2019, at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville. (Katie Webber / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Prep football moved to spring as WIAA announces new schedule

The 2020-21 school year will feature four shortened athletic seasons as opposed to the typical three.

RENTON — Washington’s high school athletics governing body announced its revised plans for the upcoming school year Tuesday evening, and football is moving from the fall to the spring.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) released its revised sports season calendar for 2020-21, as schools attempt to navigate how to reopen amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The result is a switch from the standard three athletics seasons to four truncated seasons, and fall’s contact sports — including football — are being delayed six months.

“What we’re really focused on is making decisions on what we know, and I think today is an example of that,” WIAA executive board president Greg Whitmore said during a Zoom call with the media, which immediately followed a board meeting. “I can’t say we know anything for sure, but there was no one in the virtual board room who thought we could get the high-risk sport of football played this fall. It doesn’t look like the state of COVID was going to allow us to do that.”

Fall sports were originally scheduled to begin practices in August, with football starting on Aug. 19 and the rest starting on Aug. 24.

However, the plan is now to have the fall sports considered low-risk with regards to the spread of coronavirus — cross country, golf, tennis and possibly girls swimming — be part of Season 1, which begins practices on Sept. 7 and runs through Nov. 8.

Meanwhile, the higher-risk fall sports — football, volleyball, girls soccer and possibly girls swimming — would be part of a newly-crafted Season 3, which would begin practices Feb. 22 for football and March 1 for other sports, then conclude May 9 for football and May 2 for the others.

The traditional winter sports — basketball, wrestling, boys swimming — comprise Season 2, which begins practices on Jan. 4 and concludes March 7. The traditional spring sports — track and field, baseball, softball, boys soccer, and tennis and golf postseasons — would begin practices on April 26 and conclude June 27.

WIAA executive director Mick Hoffman stressed that everything is subject to change, depending on the situation with coronavirus.

“Please understand it’s an incredibly fluid situation,” Hoffman said during the Zoom call. “Where we’re at now could change tomorrow. Literally during the meeting we were notified about the possibility of several schools making announcements about online learning. Because this is happening so incredibly fast we want to make sure we’re giving schools information to make plans, but also make sure everyone understands that when we look at dates, they’re definitely written in pencil.”

One factor forcing the plan to be flexible is that sports are tied to Washington State’s Safe Start plan. The high school sports considered low-risk can only begin when a county has reached Phase 3 of the Safe Start plan, moderate-risk sports can only begin in Phase 4, and high-risk sports (including football) can only begin in Phase 4-plus, which has yet to be outlined by the state. The majority of the state’s counties, including Snohomish County, are in Phase 2, and the state has a freeze in place through at least July 28.

The other main issue affecting sports being allowed is whether schools open for in-person instruction. Whitmore said that the WIAA doesn’t yet know whether sports will happen if school buildings are closed, but he said many school district superintendents indicated reluctance to allow sports if classrooms weren’t open.

If the state or the school districts are not in a position to allow sports by September 7, the contingency plan is to move the Season 1 sports into Season 3. No contingency plan has been created for if sports are still not allowed by the start of Season 2.

Even if sports are allowed, the WIAA is preparing to be flexible not only with dates, but also with regards to rule changes, scheduling and postseason formats. Hoffman even floated the idea, given the likelihood of different counties being in different phases, of regionalizing the postseason and having multiple state champions at each classification.

Once sports begin, testing will not be required for athletes, but health screenings will be conducted daily by coaches. If a player tests positive, all those in close contact will be required to quarantine for 14 days. Hoffman acknowledged that may force a team to be removed from competition.

As for spectators, Hoffman said the Washington State Department of Health will provide the guidelines. However, the sports in Season 1 lend themselves to outdoor spacing, so Hoffman anticipates spectators would be allowed, at least in Season 1.

“We want to get kids back in school, back on the field, back on the court as quick as we can,” Whitmore said. “It’s that balancing act, and we’re going to do all we can from the executive board level to see that that happens.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Snell strikes out 9, Rays win to pull even in World Series

The Shorewood alum takes a no-hitter into the fifth; Tampa Bay hangs on to beat the Dodgers 6-4.

Tampa Bay Rays' Mike Zunino celebrates his solo home run against the Houston Astros during the second inning in Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
A slice of Everett in this year’s World Series

The Rays’ Mike Zunino and the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor were teammates on the AquaSox in the summer of 2012.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been a huge factor in Seattle’s 5-0 start. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Grading the Seahawks at the bye week

Through five games Seattle is 5-0, and the marks reflect that record.

Lang captures Pro Late Models title at Evergreen Speedway

The Glacier Peak senior won the Central Welding Supply 125 this past Saturday.

Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf, right, catches the game-winning touchdown as Minnesota’s Anthony Harris defends in Seattle’s 27-26 victory over the Vikings on Oct. 11 at CenturyLink Field. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
POLL: What was the Seahawks’ biggest pre-bye moment?

Seattle is 5-0 at its bye, and there has been no shortage of defining plays.

Ryan Leveck makes a jump as he makes his way down the slopes during the opening day of Stevens Pass on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Stevens Pass, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald).
You will need a reservation to ski at Stevens Pass this year

But despite capacity restrictions, the resort expects most skiers and boarders will get a lift ticket.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger celebrates his two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning in Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Dodgers’ stars shine in win over Rays in Game 1 of World Series

Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger homer to back a great start from Clayton Kershaw in L.A.’s 8-3 win.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson reacts after throwing the game winning touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-26. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Wilson has been ‘as good as you can get’ for Seahawks

The star quarterback’s brilliant play has Seattle at 5-0 entering the bye week.

The Central Welding Supply 125, which serves as the season finale at Evergreen Speedway, will attempt to run on Saturday, after being bumped postponed last weekend due to weather.
Season finale set for Saturday at Evergreen Speedway

The Central Welding Supply 125 was supposed to run last weekend, but was postponed due to weather.

Most Read