By Joseph Hayes
It has been a year featuring one change after another.
But as a new year rolls around the corner, the Michigan High School Athletic Association has scheduled the conclusion of its fall athletic seasons.
The postseason rounds for football, girls volleyball and girls swimming and diving will be completed during the month of January; as the MHSAA considers the emergency orders from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
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Football teams are allowed to begin two days of outdoor, non-contact practice on Dec. 28, featuring conditioning and drills.
That will include Marine City High School, which was in the midst of a run for a state championship when all of the postponements began.
“This gets more bizarre each time we have an ‘announcement’,” Marine City coach Daryn Letson said.
“Still so many questions without answers. The testing variable is like playing the lottery and we all know the likelihood of winning the lottery. Yet, we will do this with teenage kids, essentially using them as test dummies for a pilot program, which in reality will have no use or bearing on anything after these 3 weeks.
“Really, the reasoning is this pilot program will be used to help keeps schools open?”
Players will wear helmets and shoulder pads during practice and be forced to endure physical distancing.
This will be in advance of the first round of testing which will occur Dec. 30; as part of the MDHHS rapid testing pilot program.
Schools will test players, coaches and other team personnel. Full-contact practice will then be allowed to resume after a first round of negative results.
For the football postseason, 11-player regional finals and 8-player semifinals will resume on Saturday, Jan. 9.
The 8-player finals and 11-player semifinals will take place on Saturday, Jan. 16; with the 11-player finals being played during the weekend of Jan. 22-23.
The MDHHS’s epidemic order is scheduled to expire Jan. 15. If restrictions on non-contact sports are lifted, volleyball and swimming & diving completion could practice and compete at that time outside of the required rapid testing program.
If the order continues, volleyball and swimming and diving could begin practice, but the teams and individuals would have to follow requirements of the rapid testing pilot program to be eligible to participate.
The plans and dates for volleyball and girls swimming and diving practice resumption and MHSAA tournaments will be finalized with competing schools early next month.
Volleyball competition is expected to restart with quarterfinal play and Lower Peninsula girls swimming and diving has already advanced to its final round.
The championship events in both sports would be held no later than Jan. 30.