Throughout the summer, work on the football field for Jones County has been building toward the start of the 2020 season.
That wait will now be a bit longer. The GHSA board of trustees voted on Monday to delay the start of the season by two weeks. That means that scrimmages and game competition will now be pushed back by two weeks.
“It’s been like nothing ever before, and we still don’t know about fans. There are still a lot of things that we don’t know,” Jones County High School athletic director Barry Veal said. “We do know that the GHSA and Dr. (Robin) Hines are doing all they possibly can to play athletics this year.”
For the Greyhounds, it means that the season opener against Northeast Macon, originally slated for Aug. 21, will now be Sept. 4. The season will still consist of the full ten games as well as the complete five rounds of playoffs.
Teams can still officially begin practice on July 27. The GHSA ruling only adjusts the schedule at this time for football. Other fall sports, such as softball, cheerleading, cross country and volleyball may practice for the first time Aug. 1. The Greyhounds softball scrimmage on Aug. 5 at Veterans at 6 p.m. remains on schedule. Other sports are allowed competition by the GHSA starting Aug. 10.
“It’s been a little bit different with the later start than we had with all the protocols,” Greyhounds softball coach Tripp Burt said. “They’ve done a good job with the change. I think most of them are just ready for some sense of normalcy.”
From a football standpoint, the delay also pushed back the scrimmage against Houston County to the week of Aug. 28. Veal said that, while all games are being pushed back by two weeks, some reworking may take place with open weeks no longer clashing with fall breaks for Jones County and Henry County, which is home to the Greyhounds Region 4-AAAAA opponents.
“The two off weeks on the original schedule fell on our fall break and Henry County’s fall break,” Veal said. “If we move the region games back three weeks, we can keep those fall breaks on the off weeks. Even though both school systems moved their calendars back, they did not change the calendar, so the fall breaks are still the same.”
Regardless of when the Greyhounds tee it up, they’re a group that’s chomping at the bit to get on the field.
“They’re getting ready to play every day; they think that we’re going to play,” Jones County head football coach Mike Chastain said. “It’s been good; we’ve had a really good turnout and the guys have been working hard.”
If nothing else, the Greyhound student-athletes have been eager to get on the field after a majority of spring sports were all but wiped out with seasons being cancelled due to COVID-19.
Teams have been permitted to hold conditioning workouts for athletes as far back as June 8.
Monday was the first day that the GHSA permitted helmets to be distributed to use for football with the requirement that they’d be sanitized before and after each workout.
“You take one spring semester out, and you get rid of track, baseball, golf, tennis...a lot of people have not been able to do anything for a long time, so you can tell that they’re ready,” Chastain said.