High School Football Season Adjust as COVID-19 Cases Continue to Spread

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The high school football season is rolling along but the season has faced its fair share of challenges along the way due to COVID-19.

Concerns over the virus have put the season on the brink almost every single day.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Allen high school football coach Terry Gambill. "It's challenged us in all areas. Every day you get up to go to work, you don't know what to expect."

"I'm trying to focus on making sure that our program keeps going," said Duncanville football coach Reginald Samples. "Every week I'm hearing about someone shutting down, or losing games or not playing this week."

Programs like Highland Park have had to undergo a long time away in quarantine because of positive COVID-19 tests, with the Scots having to essentially pick up their season on the fly in October.

"We didn't start where we left off when we came back from that 14-day break," said Highland Park high school football coach Randy Allen. "But we're getting a little bit closer. We have to do the best we can do with what we have the time we have to work with our players and they adapted well after we got going."

While other programs, like Arlington Martin, have had to find new opponents just days before kickoff because of last-minute cancellations.

"All things considered, I think we've done an admirable job of trying to manage an unmanageable situation," said Arlington Martin high school football coach Bob Wager. "I'm proud of our kids, I'm proud of our community for trusting us to do it, but I think that anybody who thinks that they're in control of this virus would be sorely mistaken. We are not."

The potential for change at any moment has completely redefined the way coaches are preparing for games, having to consider the worst-case scenario in ways they never thought they would.

"We always have contingency plans, it's just that this year your contingency plans are a lot more extensive," said Denton Ryan high school football coach Dave Henigan. "Whether it's who is the substitute head coach if something happens? Who's the substitute play-caller? Who is the next quarterback? Do you have an emergency quarterback if you lose all your quarterbacks?"

But through the contingency plans, challenges and adjustments, the games and preparation rolls on, with one thing in mind - allowing student-athletes to play the game they love in the short window most will ever have the opportunity.

"I think it's all about balance," said Denton Guyer high school football coach Rodney Webb. "We have to have a healthy respect for this virus and our ability to spread it, even though it's not really affecting our young people. But at the same time, we've got to have some sense of normalcy. And let's be honest, Friday night lights in North Texas is part of our culture, it's part of the fabric of who we are. I think it's important that we do our best to create as normal of an environment for our kids and our communities as we possibly can. So we've got to fight the good fight."

For every game that has been postponed in North Texas, there have been about 10 that have been played. Which is why hope is still alive they can finish this out - in what has been unquestionably one of the most challenging seasons of high school football North Texas has ever seen.

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