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CHSAA approves variances for schools to play fall football

Ken Hamrick
719-384-1425
La Junta High School's Nathan Frankmore (7) hands off to Anthony Torrez (20) in a game played last season. CHSAA approved variances for fall football to be played. However, La Junta had not officially announced it would play.

It appears that there will be high school football played this fall after all.

In meeting on Wednesday evening, the Colorado High School Board of Directors voted to approve variances from the Governor's COVID Response Team. That gives each school the choice of playing football, along with field hockey and sideline spirit, of playing in Season A (which will likely be October and November) or Season C (March through May).

The vote was 12-3.

Schools may not play in both seasons.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, four local schools — Crowley County, Fowler, Manzanola and McClave — had confirmed that there will be football this fall. La Junta said it was a possibility as well as Rocky Ford and Cheraw.

Las Animas declared it will play football in Season C.

No response was received from the rest of the local schools as of press time.

The Governor's office approved the variances requested by CHSAA on Wednesday morning. According to the Governor's public announcement, the CHSAA Board of Director has empowered its member schools and school districts to determine if their teams are able to proceed with a fall (Season A) schedule in field hockey, football and sideline spirit under the guidelines set by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

A major factor in the Board's decision was the approval of the variances, and the COVID Response Team's approval that these sports could move forward in a safe manner, will all the recommended guidelines.

The variances allow for 50 players, per sideline, to be on the field during a football game. Previously, these guidelines were 25 players, total.

Field hockey is 25 per sideline, per game.

Spirit roster size is based upon CHSAA classification maximums.

There are other restrictions that must be followed, per the variance:

All participants, including athletes, coaches, match officials, staff and others, must wear masks while not actively playing, even outdoors. They must also be six feet apart from non-household members on the sidelines, or while not in active play. They may not go into the spectator area.

Spirit participants must perform off the field of play, and must be at least 25 feet away from participants and spectators at all times.

These sports have been conditionally approved. If a community falls out of compliance and enters Level 3 in the Safer at Home Public Health Order 20-35, the Colorado Department of Health has said the approval will be re-evaluated and may be rescinded.

Requested variances for the remaining fall sports — gymnastics, boys soccer, spirit, girls volleyball and unified bowling — remain under consideration by the COVID Response Team.

Specifics about each season will be communicated to CHSAA member schools in timely manner. The CHSAA staff will be working closely with the administrators and school districts to assist with implementing Season A changes in an expedited manner.

In other words, the first day of practice and the first competition dates will be announced soon.

Tribune-Democrat reporter Ken Hamrick can be reached by email at khamrick@ljtdmail.com. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the La Junta Tribune-Democrat at lajuntatribunedemocrat.com/subscribenow.