By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
The high school football season was scheduled to open last Friday night but stadiums in Virginia were dark as all fall sports have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the football season is scheduled to be played in the spring with the first games on February 22.
The Virginia High School League released a tentative schedule for all fall sports on August 24, with a September 3 Executive Committee meeting to approve the “Championships + 1” schedule for the FY 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities season. That meeting has now been moved until Thursday, September 17, to give the VHSL Executive Committee and staff an additional two weeks to review and discuss feedback from membership before adopting the final schedule.
“We have received a tremendous amount of input from principals, superintendents, activity directors, and coaches since the release of the Championships + 1 schedule,” said said VHSL Executive Director, Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “This type of feedback from membership is critical and essential before approving a final plan. Moving the meeting two weeks later gives the Executive Committee and staff the necessary time to review the invaluable input we have received. From day one, we have been committed to getting this right and getting our students participating in activities safely and responsibly.”
Glenvar High School coach Kevin Clifford was on the 25-member committee to make recommendations for the rescheduled football season. Other local coaches included Lord Botetourt’s Jamie Harless and Craig County’s Mark Harrison on a committee that included a cross-section of coaches throughout the state from all classifications. Their recommendation was a regular season that would consist of six games over seven weeks with four teams from each region making the playoffs.
“Jamie and I talked a lot about what would be best,” said Clifford. “The original proposal was to have some sort of invitational tournament, like an NIT, but that didn’t pass.
“We decided to go with the top four in each region (for the playoffs) and go by power points. I like the power points; I think it’s the fairest way to do it.”
William Byrd is in the six team Blue Ridge District and the plan is to play the five district opponents plus one other team in the regular season. Lutz would like to play at least one other Roanoke County team for the Terriers’ sixth game.
“The Roanoke area is packed full of successful football programs,” he said. “While I have only been here for one season, I value the rivalries that exist in Roanoke County so I would like to make sure we got to play one of them.”
The Terriers are at somewhat of a disadvantage in the “off season” as the players aren’t allowed in the weight room to lift. That’s a rule for Roanoke County schools.
“They won’t let us in to lift, we can’t practice, and I haven’t seen the kids since the spring,” said Glenvar’s Clifford. “We can’t do a thing and our success is based on what we do in the off-season. It’s the same thing for Cave Spring, Hidden Valley, Northside and William Byrd. Brad (Byrd coach Lutz) and I have talked about it, it puts us at a real disadvantage.”
“Our plan is to begin strength and conditioning on September 28th,” said Lutz. “At this point, I have focused all of my time and energy on having a plan for things that we can control. I’m excited that we will play football this season, and I am grateful that our student-athletes at William Byrd High School will have an athletic experience.
“With that said, there are still numerous questions that need to be answered as far as scheduling is concerned. Our campus will be very busy this winter and spring, but I am thankful to coach at a school where coaches support each other and encourage our players to play other sports.”