Fall sports competition for 4A and under football teams will begin on time with practice starting Aug. 3, and season opener kick-off to begin Aug. 27. District competition will be completed by Nov. 7 with the State Championship to be held on Dec. 16-19.
The Columbus Cardinals and the Rice Raiders football teams are in the 3A classification while the Weimar Wildcats football team is in the 2A classification. Their schedules will remain as scheduled for the foreseeable future.
The Lady Cardinal Volleyball team will begin practice on Aug. 3 with their opening game with the El Campo Ricebirds to begin on Aug. 11. Tennis teams and Cross Country begin their first day of games Aug. 17.
Class 5A and 6A fall sports were delayed by about a month. The UIL deemed the dense population that makes up this classification may prove too much of an opportunity for Covid-19 to play havoc with the attendees and participants.
The UIL may still modify the schedules, participation guidelines and attendance rules since the fluid situation of the pandemic can alter any of these at any time. However, this was the last chance to clear schools to go forward with their schedules and timelines particularly for football and volleyball. UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt said in a news release, “While understanding situations change and there will likely be interruptions that will require flexibility and patience, we are hopeful this plan allows students to participate in the education-based activities they love in a way that prioritizes safety and mitigates the risk of COVID-19 spread.”
The Covid-19 mitigation plan the UIL has provided states that fan capacity will be limited to 50 percent. Fan attendees will be required to wear face coverings upon entry. Marching bands, cheerleaders and drill teams can participate but are advised to also wear face coverings when they are not actively participating in the event.
When asked about the imposed UIL guidelines for practice and play, Columbus Head Coach Matt Schobel said, “We will be faced with many challenges this year in regards to COVID-19 but we are going to take all precautions to keep our student-athletes safe.” Jared Sloan, Rice Raiders Athletic Director echoed the same sentiments, “We will follow the UIL guidelines and make adjustments as needed to ensure our athletes are properly prepared and remain healthy as we move forward with the new school year.” The Citizen reached out to Ryan McIver, Weimar Wildcats Athletic Director for comment for his district, however, McIver had not responded before The Citizen’s press deadline.