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Utah High Schools Prepare To Kick Off Football Season Amid Coronavirus Concerns

KAYSVILLE, Utah – College football is still up in the air for many universities, but Utah high schools are raring to go. The first game of the season is just days away, and it’s a big game in more ways than one.

Davis High School is getting ready to take on Herriman High School on Thursday at 7 p.m.  Not only is it their first game of the season, but it’s also the first high school football game of the regular season in the country.

It’s a big deal for Utah to kick off high school football while the nation is still dealing with the pandemic.

“I think the boys are prepared,” said Mitch Arquette, Davis High football head coach. “They’re excited. They’re ready to go.”

While it’s a lot of pressure to be the first high school to play this season, he said they’re ready.

“We’ve talked about it with the boys and told them you’re going to leave the first impression on high school football and football in general,” said Arquette.

Many colleges and universities have already decided not to play this year. It’s rumored that the Big Ten will cancel their season and the Pac-12 could follow suit.

The Mid-American and Mountain West conferences have already voted to postpone fall sports, meaning Utah State University will not be playing football in 2020.

However, it’s full steam ahead for Utah’s high schools — with some noticeable changes.

“We screen every day. We track the screenings. We sanitize regularly before, after, and during practice. We make sure we’re not sharing waters,” said Arquette.

Besides making sure the players are healthy, the sidelines will be expanded to the 10-yard line so they have more room to spread out.

Time outs will be a minute longer to give kids more time to get to their water.

Instead of having unlimited participants, only 50 players in uniform will be allowed.

As for fans, it depends on the county.

“If they’re in a yellow phase, then as for spectators, you can have up to 6,000 people in a facility if you can safely social distance, but our high schools will not have that kind of capacity,” said Brenan Jackson, director of football for the Utah High School Athletics Association.

Jackson said it will be up to schools to decide how many fans they can safely let in, and they’ll have to buy tickets online and in advance.

If all the rules are followed, officials said that will be a win for every team.

“We’ve told the schools over and over again that the more they adhere to the guidelines that we have provided and the governor has provided, the longer we get to play,” said Jackson.

UHSAA officials said they’ve gotten positive and negative feedback about going forward with a high school football season, but they believe playing sports is important for kids’ mental and physical health and they hope everyone can do it safely.

“The end goal is to stay healthy and finish the 2020 season as planned,” said Arquette.

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