UIL announces updated schedule for 2020-2021 season; 1A-4A to start on time, 5A-6A delayed to September
HOUSTON - The University Interscholastic League has announced a radical plan for the start of the 2020-2021 fall season.
On Tuesday, the UIL announced a new calendar for fall sports but it is split. Class 1A-4A will be allowed to start on time, while Class 5A and 6A will be pushed back a month into September.
"Our goal in releasing this plan is to provide a path forward for Texas students and schools," UIL Executive Director Dr. 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 risk of COVID-19 spread."
Modified UIL Activities Calendar & COVID-19 Guidelines for 2020-2021 School Year
Press Release ⬇️https://t.co/sv3boFOD43
Full COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Guidelines ⬇️https://t.co/o3qFFIZxrF
More COVID-19 Information ⬇️https://t.co/lE7fRyRbWY pic.twitter.com/vuWybpYVQ8
— Texas UIL (@uiltexas) July 21, 2020
Football and volleyball seasons for Class 1A through 4A will remain on time. Practice for football and volleyball teams will begin August 3, while volleyball will start games August 10 and football on August 27, like it was originally scheduled.
"There was a lot of hooping and hollering and jumping around our office this morning as soon as that hit," Splendora Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Marcus Schulz said. "We're definitely excited. We're excited for our kids. Our kids deserve that. I'm glad that Dr. [Susan] Elza and Dr. [Charles] Breithaupt and those at UIL made the decision that they did.
"For me, personally, I've got a daughter who's going to be a senior volleyball player, so I know she's going to be ecstatic."
Having the dates in place now, has allowed coaches such as Stafford Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Ken Savanah to get a plan together. Savanah will have to find a new Week 1 opponent as previously scheduled Angleton (5A) cannot start until September, he is also considering leaving that week open to allow a slow start back.
"My staff has been fired up," Savanah said. "We've all been under the impression that football is going to happen, just let us know when. We've been trying to keep our kids in the same mindset. It's going to happen, it may be adjusted but we were willing to adjust to whatever it is."
Getting structure back in the athletes lives is something Savanah believes will be vital to getting "a sense of normalcy" back in their lives.
"We have a bunch of kids who have been out doing nothing for four or five months now," Savanah said. "They're looking to get back to some sense of 'hey, I've got to be here, I've got to be there', other than just hanging out."
An issue that Savanah pointed out was their District 12-4A-DI is paired up with District 11-4A-DI for the first round of the playoffs. The problem with that is 11-4A-DI is an all-Houston ISD district. Currently, HISD has stated that athletics would not happen while they are in virtual learning, which is set to go until October 16.
Stafford has been conducting SAC camp throughout the summer. They started June 8 and then took the two-week break when the UIL requested teams do so and started back last week and are still going.
Class 5A and 6A football and volleyball teams will start practice on September 7, with volleyball matches beginning the week of September 14 and football starting the week of September 24.
One of those 6A teams is back-to-back state champion North Shore, which is eyeing its third-straight crown in 2020. For the first time in his coaching career, Jon Kay did not have spring football. The first fall practice for the Mustangs will have to wait until September now, but Kay is just happy to have a timeline in place.
"All of us are in the same boat, so we were prepared to start on time and now we will get prepared for the pushed back season," Kay said. "I'm just happy to have something to plan for."
The playoffs for 5A and 6A would start the week of December 7, which would set these dates: Bi-District Round (December 10-12), Area (December 17-19), Regional (December 24 or 26 (No games on Christmas Day), Quarterfinals (December 31-January 2), State Semifinals (January 7-9) and State Championship (Week of January 11 (TBD). If the UIL stays with AT&T Stadium for 5A and 6A state title games, they would have to navigate their title weekend around the NFL Playoffs.
Another aspect of pushing the state titles and some playoff games into January, what do players who want to early enroll do?
"With the season bleeding over into the second semester, it certainly adds another dimension of challenges," Kay, who had three players graduate early last season, said. "We have a couple more that are planning on graduating early this season. If we are fortunate enough to be playing in January, I'll be happy to deal with those challenges."
The differing seasons has caused some coaches, like Schulz, to go into scramble mode to fill his schedule, which had some 5A programs and private schools on the docket. Currently, Splendora is seeking a second scrimmage, and a Week 0,1 and 2 games, because Kingwood Park (5A), North Forest (5A), Baytown Lee (5A) and Spring Legacy (Private) were originally slated for those weeks.
With the different starts, that means state championship weekends will also be different.
Class 1A-4A state championships for volleyball will be November 18-21, while football will be December 16-19. For Class 5A and 6A, the state championships for volleyball will be moved to December 11-12 and football will be shifted to January with a date to be decided. Another shift will be team tennis championships are moved to November 11-12, which is for all classifications, and cross country is moved from November to December 5.
This announcement comes after the California Interscholastic Federation announced it would be moving the fall sports to the spring with start dates in December and January.
That move has already caused some recruiting movement. According to his Twitter, ESPN 300 recruit Victory Vaka has already announced his intentions to forgo his senior season and early enroll at Texas A&M.
According to High School Football America there are 13 states that have adjusted the start of the 2020 football season. According to their post, Arizona (September 11), Hawaii (Postponed), Mississippi (September 4), New Jersey (October 2), New York (October 1), New Mexico (Moved to Spring), South Carolina (September 11), Tennessee (Postponed), Vermont (Postponed), Virginia (Moved to Spring), Washington (September 18) and West Virginia (September 3) and California (Moved to Spring) have made their plans known.
Of the states that have made announcements, California, Virginia and New Mexico have been the only ones to have pushed fall sports to the spring.
Prior to Monday's announcement by the UIL, in Texas the Southwest Preparatory Conference announced on Thursday it would not start athletics until September 8 with conference games being held off until September 21. The next day, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) announced no games, workouts or scrimmages before September 7. Workouts could begin September 8 with volleyball matches being postponed to September 21 and football until September 28.
Move over Clint Eastwood, there's a new gunslinger in town. Ace Whitehead is his name and he's a multi-sport athlete at Lampasas High School. He jumped on the Central Texas scene as a freshman and sophomore, and turned up the dial so much as a junior that his public profile sits at a personal high going into his senior year.
It started with the 2019 Texas high school football season, when he recorded his best year to date with 4,982 yards and 75 touchdowns. He ultimately quarterbacked the Badgers' football team to its first UIL state semifinal appearance in 33 years.
"I think the most memorable thing was just how we came together as brothers and let everybody know what we're about here," said Whitehead. "We didn't listen to the outside noise or whatever. We just came together as a unit and gave it our all each Friday night."
But, Whitehead's on-the-field play wasn't alone in putting him on the map. He also received statewide attention for his unique name. Twitter users have described it as "QB Name of the Year" and a "quintessential Texas HS QB name", and it's been featured in media stories like the one you're reading.